the shape of leadership

New Life After the Storm

A Texas church reinvented itself to reach a diverse community

Chris Colvin on August 7, 2020

David Gomez was initially reluctant to take on Monte Calvario in Galveston, Texas, as his first lead pastor position. The membership was small, and the building was cramped. But 30 years ago, he said “yes” to the tug of the Holy Spirit.

“This is where God wanted to bring me,” Gomez says.

When Hurricane Ike hit Galveston Island in 2008, left in its wake was millions of dollars in damage. The building Gomez and his church had built flooded. And because of the devastation in the community, nearly half of the Assemblies of God congregation had to relocate.

But from that destruction came a new path. Gomez’s oldest son, David, who serves as the church’s youth director, approached his dad with two ideas.

First, the younger Gomez suggested the church needed a new name. He explained that Mount Calvario, Spanish for “Mount Calvary,” was difficult for his friends to pronounce. Second, he proposed offering services in English.

Up to that time, all services were bilingual. Gomez would preach in Spanish and English, something that satisfied his Hispanic multicultural congregation. The older members heard the gospel in their native language, while the younger ones enjoyed the more familiar English.

“God told me He was giving us new life.”
— David Gomez

But Gomez’s son had a point. Many in the diverse community would not attend the church because they didn’t speak Spanish. However, they might come to an English language service.

Gomez agreed the time was right for such a transition. The church reopened as New Life Fellowship. The name reflected not only new life in Christ and the new building that rose from the flood damage, but also the new direction of the ministry.

The results were encouraging. Not only did young visitors show up, but they also returned and brought their parents and extended families. Today, New Life Fellowship is a multicultural beacon in Galveston, serving more people than it did before the hurricane.

“God told me He was giving us new life,” Gomez says. “I told my members that we had to make this change. First, we could never reach other cultures by remaining the same. But also, we would begin to lose our children as well.”

The church benefits from the talents, gifts, and perspectives that come from having people of multiple races and nationalities present each week.

“Last year, we had a service called Christmas Around the World,” Gomez says. “Our kids from different ethnicities served, sharing music and dances from Mexico, Guatemala, India and even Kenya.”

New Life Fellowship is using every opportunity to proclaim the gospel, and the church is seeing God move.

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