Report: New Life in Land O’ Lakes  

June 13, 2023
David Dunlap

Land O’Lakes Bible Chapel, Lutz, Florida

For the last twenty-three years, Land O’ Lakes Bible Chapel has been striving to reach its community for Christ. This assembly is in the fast-growing community of Lutz, Florida, in the north Tampa area. In 1999, a Bible study was started in the living room of David and Faith Dunlap in Land O’ Lakes, FL. The numbers of those attending this Bible study began to slowly grow. The desire to form a New Testament assembly also began to grow in the minds of those in the study. A fifteen-week study on the New Testament church commenced and a small group began to have the conviction to start meeting as a local church.

The Early Beginnings

On January 2, 2000, the Land O’ Lakes Bible Chapel had their first meeting in the living room of David and Faith Dunlap’s home. There were thirteen adults and three children present. Within a few months, the numbers began to grow, and by the end of 2000, there were 30 in fellowship. In the following year, the assembly began meeting in the Land O’ Lakes Community Center. Over the years the assembly devoted itself to several evangelistic efforts in the area of Land O’ Lakes and Lutz. Evangelistic home Bible studies saw fruit using “Christianity Explored” Bible study material. Year after year, backyard children’s Bible clubs, tent evangelism at local fairs, door-to-door gospel campaigns, children’s gospel work, Vacation Bible schools, and personal evangelism were faithfully conducted. The GNOM gospel team visited the area on two occasions and engaged in personal and open-air evangelism. During this time, a number were saved as a result.

Permanent Meeting Place

In early 2003, the assembly numbered about 35-40 believers plus a few who attended only the Family Bible Hour. The assembly began to think about a more permanent meeting place. It was difficult to find existing buildings in the area that were suitable. In time, our thoughts turned to buying land and building a chapel.

In May 2003, a five-acre piece of land was purchased at 1209 Livingston Road in nearby Lutz. After some negotiations with the seller, the amount of $120,000 was offered and accepted. The loan for this property was completely paid off in the latter part of 2008. After that, the assembly began to turn its attention to building a chapel facility on the property. A loan was secured from Steward’s Foundation for the construction. 

Through the sacrifice and hard work of local believers and those of nearby assemblies, together with prayer and many visits to the county permitting office, an 1,880 square-foot-building was finally completed in August 2012. Over the next few years, the Lord blessed our evangelistic outreach efforts and the number of believers in our assembly fellowship grew from 35-40 believers to 70-75 believers. In 2018 the assembly expanded the modular chapel building to the current 4,100 square feet, with a seating capacity of 110. 

As time passed, the assembly continued to grow, and the Lord added gifted leaders, Bible teachers, and children’s workers. Today there are three elders that oversee the assembly: David Dunlap, Conrad Campbell, and Edgar Carvalho. There are also several gifted Bible teachers that labor in the Word and are committed to the local assembly. Additionally, there are many men and women that work faithfully behind the scenes.

Ministries of Land O’ Lakes Bible Chapel

Several ministries have arisen through the labors of the saints at Land O’ Lakes Bible Chapel. It has been our burden from the very beginning to reach out to young people with the gospel. This has been the motivation in much of our evangelism. In 2010, eighty young people attended a one-day youth event held at a farm in Land O’ Lakes. This small effort was the beginning of the Walk Worthy Weekend, now held at Camp Horizon. For the last 15 years the Walk Worthy Weekend has drawn 110-120 young people from Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina for in-depth study of the Bible. 

Three years ago, another youth retreat was added called The Authentic Faith Weekend. This event is usually held in March and draws approximately 65-70 young people. The weekend is held at Land O’ Lakes Bible Chapel. Young people who travel from a distance are offered overnight accommodation in believer’s homes. In the past, some have attended from as far away as Pennsylvania, Texas, and the Miami area. The goal of the teaching is to equip young people to stand for their faith at school and in the workplace.

Another important ministry is the Friday Evening Kid’s Club and Youth Group, an outreach ministry which meets at the chapel and draws a good group of children, several of which are from unsaved families. Twice a month, 30-40 young people gather for a challenging gospel message, games, crafts, and a kid-friendly dinner. The Youth Group meets separately for apologetically based Bible study.

Additionally, the Chapel College and Career Bible Study meets on the 1st and the 3rd Sunday evenings. Some from the nearby University of South Florida attend this Bible study. This study is led by two of the elders.

Key Principles of Ministry

For many years the chapel has been meeting every Sunday for the Lord’s Supper at 9:15 a.m., then breaking into three groups at 10:15 a.m. for adult Sunday School Bible discussions groups before regathering for the Family Bible Hour at 11:15 a.m. These adult Sunday School discussion groups have been a valuable time of learning from each other as well as an opportunity to detect spiritual needs or if there is doctrinal error needing correction among those visiting the chapel. On Wednesday evenings, we meet for prayer and Bible study. 

Key principles that we have tried to maintain at Land O’ Lakes Bible Chapel are verse-by-verse Bible teaching, hospitality, mentoring, and personal discipleship. It is our desire to learn as much as we can from the Word of God, to serve our Savior in reaching the unsaved with the gospel and to minister to the saints. Finally, our highest priority is to worship the Lord Jesus Christ in spirit and truth. 

Looking to the Future

Over the years many have been saved and baptized. In the l  ast 13 years we have seen approximately 45 new believers baptized. Today, there are 125 believers in fellowship at Land O’ Lakes Bible Chapel. Due to the recent addition of several new families, the assembly is now in the planning and praying stages of building an 8,000 square foot concrete block building with seating for 250 believers. We have contacted a local architect and consulted with builders and site engineers. Presently, we are working toward paying off our existing loan. It is our desire that, Christ the Head of the Church, will continue to lead and direct this local assembly.

by David Dunlap