2014 Annie Armstrong
HOMESTEAD (BP)—You could say Patrick Coats is a product of his spiritual legacy. But it’s a legacy he attempted to elude—at least for a time.
A native of Miami, Coats was raised by his grandfather, Joe Coats, the first African-American pastor to affiliate with the Florida Baptist Convention in 1968. The elder Coats planted a church in a school building and saw it grow to 4,000 members.
“Hurricane Andrew destroyed the church building, but it did not destroy the church family,” said Coats. “The last major project for my grandfather was rebuilding the church [facilities].”
Coats was never far from his grandfather, so he was constantly in church. When he was old enough, he began serving alongside his grandfather, first as a music minister. A degree in music education followed, and though Coats will tell you he is primarily a trumpeter, he can play an array of instruments, including drums.
“I was immersed in Southern Baptist life,” said Coats. “I’ve been everything there is to be in church from a deacon to a preacher. But I ran from a specific call as lead pastor.”
Coats ran to music and started a Christian rap group. Although it was a rebellious run, his was a mild one. He remained involved in church leadership, but did not want to be a pastor. Coats’ uncle, Joe Coats, started a church, tapping his nephew to serve as minister of music. After 10 years his uncle had a new idea.
“In 2005 my uncle threw me into the pulpit,” said Coats. “That began a three-year journey of preaching, attending seminary and the realization that I had to embrace the call of a pastor to be obedient to my Lord.”
Perhaps still testing the waters lightly, Coats moved his family to Homestead and intended to start slow with his first church plant. He planned a small Bible study.
“We began with a group of 14 at the first Bible study preview,” said Coats. “They all asked a question I wasn’t prepared to answer. ‘What are you going to do now?’”
Coats did the only thing he could think of and began looking for meeting space. In December 2009 he found a movie theater that allowed him to rent space for the Bible study. The Bible study launch was set for New Year’s Eve.
“Forty people showed up for the Bible study,” said Coats. “The next week more came and everyone wanted to have a worship service. That year we baptized 30 people. In 2011 we baptized 33. I backed into church planting.”
All the while Coats remained involved in Southern Baptist life. He is one of six missionaries featured this year by the North American Mission Board (NAMB) as part of its 2014 Annie Armstrong Easter Offering® promotion. Miami, where Coats serves, is also one of 32 Send North America cities NAMB is bringing special emphasis and resources to in its effort to help Southern Baptists start 15,000 new churches in 10 years. Half of NAMB’s financial support comes from the Annie offering.
Kingdom Covenant Baptist Church was the result of Coats’ accidental planting. He says the church is Kingdom focused, connecting people with the Gospel. “God is up to something. You don’t have to over think it. Just do it,” said Coats.
With connections through working on the Florida Baptist Convention’s church planting team and through the North American Mission Board’s church planting network, Coats continues to sharpen his planting skills. Kingdom Covenant is establishing city groups to create a culture of discipleship, and it is working in practical ways.
“Last year we met a woman raised as a Jehovah’s Witness,” said Coats. “She came to the services as a seeker. She sought me out after a service for clarification about what she heard. She eventually gave her life to Christ and is now a Bible study leader. She had the knowledge; she just needed to meet the author.
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