Rarely can a pastor say that he pastors the church that he has attended his whole life, and that almost wasn’t the case for Senior Pastor, Paul Smith, either. As a child in a conservative Mennonite church in rural Northwest Florida, Paul decided that church was irrelevant and as soon as he was old enough he would leave church and never look back.
As he grew he figured he could take his strong work ethic and passion for leadership and climb his way to the top of the business world. Only God had a different plan for Paul and it involved him taking those gifts and passions and transforming a small, conservative church into a life-giving community of believers whose mission was to radically change the local community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
At the encouragement of his dad, who had instilled in Paul a love of reading, leadership and the Bible, he began teaching Bible studies in the prison system at the young age of 16, teaching and leading men two or three times his age. And there his passion for communicating the Word of God in a practical and relevant way was birthed and honed.
Over the past 20 plus years, while developing teams of leaders around him, breaking down cultural barriers, and doing what many said could not be done, Paul has watched God grow a small group of 35 into a church with five locations and still expanding, reaching people across multiple counties and diverse backgrounds.
Fueled by a passion to create an environment where people who were far from God could come to know and experience His love and experience life-giving community with other believers. He is equally passionate that the church as a body and individually, reach out into our communities to serve and give and love. One way Paul does this personally is by serving in leadership capacities in business and civic organizations, bringing Biblical leadership into the marketplace and shining a light in that way.
Paul and his wife, Melody have three children, Noelle, Cameron and Karis. In April of 2017 they welcomed Trevor into their family when he and Noelle married. They all live and work and serve in the community where Paul was born and raised. Their kids all share their parents’ passion for the local church and are third-generation Dream-team members at RCC.