The Church of Eleven22, a non-denominational church that opened it’s doors in Jacksonville only nine months ago, recently held a baptism celebration at Hanna Park on June 2 where 250 people were baptized. The church started as a service at the Beach United Methodist Church in Jacksonville Beach in 2008. In September 2012, they held their first service as an independent church with over 3000 in attendance at a renovated Walmart on Beach Boulevard. Since that time, weekend attendance has grown. Joby Martin, the 39-year-old Lead Pastor of The Church of Eleven22, said he was “so stoked to baptize so many people,” and described it as a landmark day in his twenty years of ministry.
Joby Martin is a bald, tattooed, weight-lifting disciple-maker with a gift for presenting the Gospel. Before accepting the job of youth minister at Beach UMC, he was offered a lucrative position as a motivational speaker with a corporate paycheck but turned it down to stay in ministry. His down-to-earth speaking style is what draws the crowds to The Church of Eleven22, even many who were previously disillusioned with organized religion. The atmosphere at the church is casual, and a glance around will reveal an eclectic group of surfers, skaters, soccer moms and seniors. The music is led by Worship Pastor Ben Williams, with members of the local group Sunbears, Jonathan Berlin and Jared Bowser on guitar/vocals and drums. Martin has quipped, “You walk in here and think, ‘what is this–a Coldplay concert?!’”
Martin was not raised in the church, but when he did attend, he heard “God is good, you are bad, try harder.” Through the testimony of his evangelistic football coach,Bull Lee, he came to believe that he couldn’t earn salvation by being a better person, but only through faith in Jesus Christ. He bears a tattoo on his bicep that quotes Acts 11:24,“He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.”
The people of the Church of Eleven22 are astounded by the rapid growth of the church. One individual, Chad Voiselle, said “It must be God, because we are not that good.” After only nine months in the new building, plans are already underway to expand the facilities. On any given Sunday, the nursery space is likely to be full, and children’s classes have already overflowed into a portable classroom behind the building. Fourth and fifth graders are using “the Dojo”: a karate studio next door that leases space to the church to use for Sunday mornings. The expansion plan, which they call “The Restore Project,” will open up a new worship annex as well as additional kids space and offices.
Services are currently offered on Thursday nights at 7:22 pm and Sunday mornings at 9 am and at 11:22 am. The church will kick off an additional Sunday 5:22 service on August 11. You can check them out at coe22.com.