Kenny Ellis grew up in Lakeland, FL and attended Southeastern Bible College (BA) and Asbury Seminary (MDIV). He is married to Jennie and they have four sons (Kobe, Connor, Coleman and Cooper). He has served the local church in many ways including youth ministry, church planting and discipleship. He and Jennie also started and led a non-profit supporting a church and school in Haiti for over 10 years. In addition, he served as an Adjunct Professor at Southeastern University teaching classes on the intersection of culture and theology. He and his family moved to Plant City in November of 2020 to join the community and start The Table. He enjoys fishing, hiking and playing tennis.
When asked how he understands his role as “pastor”, he said:
“I think God gives his followers all sorts of spiritual gifts, abilities and passions that help each of us find our unique place in His mission. The gift mix that he gave me is best used serving in the role of a pastor which I compare to a ‘player-coach’. Ephesians 4 teaches that pastors are to “equip” God’s people for ministry (service). So, my job is to coach, equip, empower, inspire and then celebrate the unique roles that everyone in our church is playing in our mission together. The ‘player’ part is huge because I can’t expect others to do what I am not willing to do. Ultimately, I want to lead every follower of Jesus out of the stands and onto the field. God created you to play a part that is unique and necessary. I have the privilege of helping you discover what your part is.”
Our mission is to create a community where people can experience a life-changing encounter with Jesus, learn to follow Him and find their place in His larger mission of love.
We are doing our best to have our values shaped by the values of Jesus as we discover Him in the New Testament. We do not see perfectly and we certainly do not live these out perfectly, but we attempt to keep Jesus and His way of life always before us as our guide.
1. Following Jesus as a Way of Life
The earliest Christians understood that to trust Jesus was not just to trust him with life after death (what we typically mean by the word “salvation”), but to learn to trust Him with all of life NOW. So, Jesus’ invitation is for us to arrange life around a relationship with Him. In the context of that relationship, we will be changed and restored from the inside out and become more like Him. But, it is a daily choice to trust and follow Him. This “way of life” is what we are committed to learning and living together at the Table.
2. The Connected Life
Jesus maintained a deep connection with His Father through prayer, solitude and silence, reading and reflecting on God’s Word and other spiritual practices. His remarkable life of love was fueled and sustained by His private life of connection to His Father. At the Table, we want to learn how to live the connected life that Jesus modeled for us. So, we will encourage and explore spiritual practices as the foundation for all of life.
3. Investing ourselves in the faith journey of others
Jesus’ model and mission was based on transferring His message and way of life to his followers through an intentional and close relationship over three years. This is the mission and model that he passed on to His followers. We are invited to seek out the wisdom and encouragement of those farther along to help us grow and mature. At the same time, we have the privilege of helping others on their faith journey as well.
4. Joining Jesus in His mission of compassion and justice
Jesus encountered a broken world full of hurting people. Because His heart was controlled by love, he always responded with compassion. But, his compassion was not just a deep feeling. It always led to actions of practical love. We want to be a community known for our compassion and active love for those who are in need. This will inevitably lead us to practice radical generosity, confront injustice and leverage our God-given influence to seek justice for those who are being overlooked, abused, exploited or underserved.
5. Enjoying Uncommon Community
Jesus’ intention is for His followers to be deeply connected to one another in relationships that are marked by humility, honesty, compassion, kindness, accountability, love and transparency. He wants us to build our friendships around prayer, reading and applying the Bible, mutual care and support through life’s struggles and a common mission of love. The internal life of our community is designed to make sure everyone experiences this kind of authentic friendship.
6. A Table for All
Our collective sin has created a world where people are judged, mistreated, overlooked and excluded because they are different. These differences include race, social position, education, economic status, sin struggles and failures, religious views and gender to name a few. Jesus came to do more than just secure our personal salvation. He came to demonstrate that His love and grace could overcome our sinful divisions and biases and bind us together in beautifully diverse communities of faith. We long for God to fill the Table with people whose friendship and shared life tells an incredible story to the world about Jesus’ unifying love.
Our church is a member of the family of churches known as the Presbyterian Church (USA). It is a historic branch of the larger Jesus family tree. This family provides us with support, encouragement, accountability and resources that help us be more faithful and effective at a local level. It also provides us with theological roots and examples of how our faith family has applied the Bible in times past. Is the PC (USA) perfect? About as perfect as your family reunions. No family of churches is without its faults. One of the unique things about the PC (USA) is that it provides a large umbrella for churches and people with varying beliefs and practices to still unify around the things that matter most…like Jesus and His mission of love. If you are not a fan of denominations in general – don’t let our larger family discourage you from connecting with us and we won’t let your weird family keep us from connecting with you.
In all seriousness, if you have genuine concerns or questions about the PC (USA), please allow us the opportunity to address them before drawing conclusions about The Table Community Church.