When William Whaley began his research on the demographics in Walton County, he made a discovery that would lead to the birth of a new church.
"While the majority of people in Walton County live south of Hwy. 20, the majority of our churches are north of Hwy 20," Whaley told The Sun. "As I prayed, God began to impress on my heart the need for a new church in Santa Rosa Beach."
Several families in the area also shared that vision, and Jeff Geoghagan became Whaley's ministry partner at New Day Church. Monthly services began in December and weekly services began Easter Sunday. The church meets at the Allyson C. Donaldson Entrepreneurial Institute at the NWFSC South Walton Center in Santa Rosa Beach.
"We are praying about a more permanent location, but property and building space is expensive, especially for a new church," Whaley said. "We prefer to rent space because our desire is to spend our resources on people rather than in buildings."
Believing people search for hope regardless of where they live or their economic situation, Whaley said the only hope for Walton County and the world is the hope found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
"Our mission is simply to make disciples of Jesus Christ," he said. "Our vision is to see lives transformed by the Gospel. We not only desire to share the message of the Gospel with people but we also believe it is important to show the Gospel of Jesus."
One way New Day Church embraced the community was at a Family Fun Day in January and another the day before Easter.
"We wanted to get to know the community and demonstrate the love of Christ by giving to the people," Whaley said. "Probably our greatest promotion, however, has been by word of mouth. At the core of our ministry is to teach Christians to be an active witness for Jesus and to involve themselves in making disciples. The people of New Day have done just that. They are telling their friends and family about what God is doing at New Day."
As a pastor, Whaley's primary function as a pastor is prayer and the ministry of the Word of God.
"I preach expositionally," he said. "In other words, I preach through books or long passages in the Bible. The reason for this is I believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God and that it is profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and instructing in righteousness. Just as important as it is to preach and teach the word, my job is to live it out. Therefore, I try to lead by example. I don't ask the congregation to do anything that I'm not willing to do."
Before Whaley was called by God to the ministry in 2000, he was a structural design engineer with Harris Corporation in Palm Bay, Fla. He then became first a youth pastor for one church and pastored at two others, the last being Southwide Baptist Church in DeFuniak Springs.
"I believe through all of these experiences God was preparing me to be a church planter," Whaley said. "This is what I was made for. To make disciples who will in turn make disciples."
New Day Church wants people to know Christ intimately through worship, grow spiritually in community, and live missionally in the world.
"We will teach people the importance of sharing the gospel at home and around the world and we encourage people to take the gospel in word and deed to people who have never heard," Whaley said. "We will do this through our G.O.S.P.E.L. Plan. It involves Giving to missions, Offering aid to the poor, Sending both short-term and long-term missionaries, Planting churches, Equipping disciples, and Loving our communities."
The hardest part of church planting, according to Whaley, is to find people who share the vision.
"Once you begin to find those people who share the vision, then building relationships becomes the easy part," he said. "New Day Church has a lot of families who are true servants. I thank God for these men and women who just want to love their community because Christ loved them first."