“I met Jesus in a nightclub.”
Even though church planter Isaac Frère grew up the son of a “wildly Haitian Pentecostal” pastor, he readily admits that in his earlier years he was “great at serving the church, but not at serving God.” Ironically, it was the skills he learned in that environment that propelled him away from the church and towards his goal of becoming a hip-hop artist.
“Once I got to college, I wanted to do my own thing. So I got connected to some guys in the hip-hop scene. I thought at the time, getting into hip-hop and girls and drugs, that was it. If I could experience that, then my life would have meaning.”
Isaac went on to work with hip hop artists such as DJ Khaled, Lil’ Wayne, and others. His music was featured in movies such as Limitless and The Family. He even amassed more than 750K followers on TikTok and 211K on Instagram.
But something changed for him one night while at a nightclub in Miami. Even though he was arguably at the pinnacle of his career, Isaac recalls walking in as a VIP, but inside he was feeling “angry, depressed, even suicidal.” Unsure of why he felt that way, he decided the remedy was simple: He needed more fame and recognition.
Within minutes, Isaac recalls “the club suddenly felt like it was going in slow motion. I started to see these people how God saw them, broken and hurting…and this is what I heard from God: ‘This is all it will ever be.’ And I just froze.”
Later that night he prayed to God: “My life is no longer mine, it’s yours. Do what you want with it.” Not long after, God placed the city of Tampa, Fla. on his heart.
Turning to Tampa
But how could God use Isaac Frère to reach fellow musicians, artists, poets, and other creatives when he admitted he “didn’t even know what church planting was”?
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Unsure of where to begin, Isaac started with an online ministry. When that took off, he created online groups. Eventually, a group of pastors asked Isaac, “How is what you’re doing different from a church?” Isaac thought about their question and said, “Well, we don’t meet on Sundays.”
In 2021, Isaac took a step of faith and moved his family to Tampa. According to Isaac, “The vision the Lord gave us for the city was to see the city filled with people filled with the spirit of God. We wanted to call it Rū Tampa, and Rū is short for ‘ruach,’ which means the spirit of God.”
Why Isaac Frère Chose An Unconventional Approach to Church Planting
Isaac understood that reaching people wholly disinterested in conventional “church” required an unconventional approach. In his own words: “Church isn’t a building you come to, it’s a community you belong to.”
He wanted Rū Tampa to “create a safe place for people to belong. If we’re going to be a church for the city, we need to be a church in the city. We just want to dwell. To be present.”
Isaac already experienced how powerful art, music, and poetry were at bringing people together. “We have a heart of cultivating community. Where we’re planting is where the arts community already exists, so that’s where we want to be present.”
To birth an unconventional church, Isaac Frère knew they needed a unique yet recognizable brand that would communicate their emphasis on a creative community that’s also Christ-centric. “Our challenge was finding the right person to help us build out our brand identity. If we’re going to launch right, we can’t afford to fall on our faces and not do this right.” That’s when they called ArtSpeak.
A Creative Community
Isaac recalls the branding companies he encountered tended to be “very templative in their approach and creative expression.” He had the vision, but was concerned the organizations he was looking into lacked the language to help articulate it in a cohesive way.
After his first call with the ArtSpeak team, Isaac walked away feeling as though his heart had been heard. “You could say there was a unity of heart in what we were trying to do, and it was a pretty smooth process all the way through. It was very life-giving!”
The first order of business was to create Strategic Messaging that captured the heart of Rū Tampa and supported their goal of engaging the creative community for Christ. They wanted to clearly articulate what made them unique—whether that was having unconventional gatherings where there’s no stage, no lights, and everyone was on the same level, to filling their gatherings with art, music, poetry and community—ArtSpeak worked closely with their team to establish their unconventional identity through messaging.
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Through the process, they identified their values of wanting people to belong, grow, connect, thrive, discuss, and serve. They were also able to put into words their desire for individuals to know they were made for something more, and to come and see what God is able to do through them.
Then it was time to create a visual identity. This phase was particularly crucial for a church plant that wants to reach a community full of creatives. “It’s funny, in our first convo with the creative team, I always had been thinking about a certain idea for a logo, but I thought it was too left field. So I kept it to myself. But when your team suddenly mentioned that very idea, my wife Vanessa turned to me in shock. That’s when we knew we had it.”
The Spirit of God Already at Work
Even though Rū Tampa’s official launch date is in September of 2023, earlier this spring Isaac Frère and his team began hosting interest meetings in downtown Tampa. Hundreds have attended. Then, on Easter Sunday, they hosted their first ever worship night. “Man, we were blown away by the response. We were at full capacity and had to send folks home. We had almost 300 people show up, which was nuts!”
For their next worship night, they’ve already made the decision to move to a larger space. Even still, Isaac believes they’ll once again be at capacity. Most importantly though, Isaac and his team “are seeing the very people we wanted to reach. It’s exciting to see what’s happening right now!”
The Future Is Bright
As Rū Tampa continues to establish its presence in Tampa’s eclectic community of creatives, Isaac is confident they’ll continue seeing people join in community to experience the Spirit of God. The heart of their team is for everyone to know that they were made for more and to see what God can do through them.
He’s reminded that “if Jesus was willing to pursue me in a nightclub, then that compels me to pursue anyone that is far from Him, too.”
Isaac said, “ArtSpeak gets it. They listen, they’re not there to impose, but to listen and interpret what’s already in your heart. Artspeak will draw things out of you that you don’t even know were there. I’m actually kind of sad our project is over because we don’t get to talk to the ArtSpeak team every week now.”
It’s Your Turn
Unconventional church plants become unconventional movements when there’s a clear vision and a well-planned strategy.
If you’re ready to take the next step and bring your vision to life with strategic messaging, captivating visuals, and effective marketing, the team at ArtSpeak would love to connect with you.
Fill out the form below for your free 30-minute consultation, and let us help you bring your vision to life.