For the past 27 years Pastor JJ Johnson has committed his life to serving the Lord through local church and para-church ministries. He is the senior pastor of South Tampa Fellowship, and he has also served as an associate pastor focusing on Next Generation Ministry at First Baptist Church of Tampa, Davis Islands Baptist Church and First Baptist Church Indian Rocks.
Pastor JJ has also serves as a sports chaplain – currently with the Toronto Blue Jays, but previously with the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees. He was the team chaplain for the University of Tampa when UT won back-to-back national championships and for Plant High School’s football team when they won several state championships. As a sports chaplain, Pastor JJ works with professional and amateur athletes who deal with a number of common issues, including self-worth, finances and family.
He and his wife Sharon have three sons: Jay Mike (MBA from USF), Caleb (sophomore at Santa Fe Community College and MC for the Gainesville College CRU Ministry), and Zeke (attends Ballast Point Elementary … yes, you read that correctly, God does have a sense of humor).
2020 Vision for STF
The Pulpit Committee asked Pastor JJ Johnson many questions during their meetings together. Now, they want to keep South Tampa Fellowship members informed by sharing his insights and vision.
This 2020 plan sets the stage for having multiple campuses across the Tampa Bay metro area, while using our main campus at Ballast Point as the gathering spot for specific ministries (Children, Students, College, Singles, CR, etc.) and for that campus to be used for creative alternative worship times and days. The launching of other campuses will be determined by finding locations where we can have an impact and influence. A campus church may stay with us indefinitely, or, as a church body, we may find it best to allow them to become an autonomous church plant, but we would remain as their sponsor church.
How will we make this a reality? We will focus on making the following changes and implementing the following initiatives:
1. Focus on the unchurched
We will ensure that everything we do has the unchurched in mind: preaching/teaching, service design, all ministries, marketing, branding, etc.
2. Clear, simple, relational steps for people to become part of our church family
Our steps must be clear to everyone, simple to move through, and led by relationally wired people.
3. Community groups must become our top priority for each member
We will transition from being satisfied with members/guests simply attending services to members actually doing life together in community groups. This new vision must focus on a radical redefinition of what “church” means. To us church is no longer what happens on the weekends. “Church” is what happens in community with others, and is in turn enriched by joining others in corporate worship every weekend, regardless of the campus or venue.
4. Relational evangelism
We will become great at modeling, teaching, and training our people to pray, serve, invite and share their faith relationally with their friends, family, and neighbors.
5. Sharing life-change stories
We will put systems in place to corporately celebrate what God is doing in our people’s lives in all areas of the church.
6. Children’s Ministry space redesigned for safety and WOW Factor!
We will complete safety projects and redesign of some of our Children’s Ministry environments to build on the current momentum and excitement among the families connected to that area. We want to make it the place kids want to be, even to the point of adding a Chick-fil-A style playground!
7. Middle School and High School Ministry
We will recruit and train leaders to reach middle and high school students and challenge them to be forces for change in their schools and circles of influence.
8. Expansion of a community of worship leaders
We will build a community of worship leaders whose main focus is on theologically rich lyrics that bring glory and praise to God, as we His people express through music our devotion and love for Him. This can be done by making the center of worship God, not the person(s) on stage.
9. City-wide campus strategy
We will learn and document as much as possible with regard to campus launches so that we will be poised to launch new ones at the rate of 1-2 a year.
10. Creative alternative worship times and days
The day and time when “one size fits all” no longer reaches the masses. In today’s postmodern Christianity, where Sunday is just another day, we need to duplicate what we do on Sunday mornings on alternate days and times (e.g., Monday night worship service that’s the same as Sunday, Friday experience that is the same as Sunday).
11. Volunteer leaders
The number one complaint from pastors and churches across America is that we don’t have enough leaders. Part of the reason for that is that as a church, we don’t do a good job of equipping leaders. We will create a formal leadership-development pipeline that recruits, trains and deploys highly capable, well-equipped volunteer leaders who own and embody the church’s vision.
12. Worldwide mission expansion
We will create clear steps and relational invitations to double the number of our mission trips and double participation to 75-100 people taking part each year. We will stay better connected with the missionaries we financial support and pray for, so that they feel like a part of our team and our church feels like they are family.
13. Staff accountability
We will continue to train and develop our staff to serve and equip our members to serve. They will continue to meet with the Finance and Personnel committees, as well as having monthly meetings with myself.
14. Men’s discipleship
It has been said that everything rises and falls on leadership. Most churches are failing because of a lack of male leadership. A great reason for that is that they have never been discipled or taught the basic spiritual-growth strategies of the Bible. I have a passion to invest in and impact men to lead their families and the church.