The Rock Of Winter Haven Rocks Out For Lake Day
by James Coulter
After several months of being cooped up at home due to the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, and with the school year having recently started, what better way to enjoy the last moments of summer than splashing in the lake by engaging in tubing, kayaking, and other water activities?
Several dozen children and their families enjoyed Labor Day weekend by participating in Lake Day at The Rock Of Winter Haven. On Saturday and Sunday, attendees were able to go out on the water while being towed on inflatable tubes by several boats. Saturday had a handful of guests attend, while Sunday drew in more attendees.
The Rock Of Winter Haven was planted 20 years ago when Mike Jarrett and his family moved to Winter Haven in 2000. What started as a former barn sitting upon 25 acres of lakeside property has since been converted into a church focused on drawing young people to its scenic shores for both fun and fellowship.
“You get the idea, when you look at our property, [that] we went through a great deal to have a property where we can minister to families, and we work at it very hard,” said Pastor Jarrett.
Though The Rock of Winter Haven is affiliated as Southern Baptist, the church considers itself “non-denominational”, reaching out to believers and non-believers alike with the Gospel of Christ regardless of affiliation.
Young people ranging from children to teenagers and young adults are their main priority. Over the past several weeks this summer, they have hosted a youth outreach each Wednesday with dinner, Bible study, and an evening of lakeside fun until sundown.
Since opening its doors 20 years, the church draws in 150 to 200 people on Sunday morning. Its youth summer camp, Life Camp, a staple for young people every summer, had drawn in more than 2,000 to 3,000 children and teenagers over the past two decades, Pastor Jarrett said.
The key to their success has been their appeal to young people. Turns out that offering children an opportunity to have a fun time with fishing, swimming, kayaking, and tubing, draws in children and their friends as potential congregation members.
“When you are reaching kids and teenagers, you have to capture their imagination,” Pastor Jarrett said. “If you capture their imagination, then you have the opportunity to share inspiration with them.”
Lake Days such as those hosted on Labor Day weekend are especially phenomenal. After all, when children have been cooped up at home due to social distancing during the pandemic, nothing feels more liberating to them than playing on the water before school starts again.
“With a Lake Day like this, we consider it a bridge event,” Pastor Jarrett said. “It’s an opportunity for them to bring their friends, our kids to come, and build a stronger relationship with them and to help them grow in their spiritual maturity, come to Christ for salvation and to help them grow and become the people that God wants them to come.”
On Sat., Sept. 19, The Rock of Winter Haven will be hosting an event with other churched within the Ridge Baptist Association. As with Lake Day on Labor Day weekend, it will be an opportunity for people to enjoy fellowship and fun with barbecue and water activities from kayaking to tubing.
Pastor Jarett hopes that he and his congregation will continue to grow and expand their outreach, as well as attend to the needs of their current members, whether it’s providing them a safe place to worship or congregate, especially following a harrowing pandemic.
“We are trying to provide some safe opportunities for kids and families to be involved in where they can get together safely,” he said. “I think that is great, and we have folks that will be at our church, and we still need opportunities for fellowship and fun, so from that expectation, I am excited about what our church is able to provide.”