Former Bridgewater teacher leaves the classroom for the pulpit

Matthew Czarnecki launched Forever Free Church in January. Starting this month, he will preach from where he used to teach.

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  • | 4:53 p.m. May 2, 2018
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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Matthew Czarnecki moved May 6, 2006, to Florida, to work as a teacher. At the time, he had no idea of what God would have in store for him 12 years to the date. On May 6, 2018, he will preach from the place where he used to teach as he launches services for Forever Free Church at Bridgewater Middle School.

“What Forever Free Church represents is we want people to come into our fellowship and we want to be able to love on them the way Jesus loves on us,” Czarnecki said. “Our mission is we exist so confined people can find freedom. A lot of times, the world looks down on people with their faults and their failures. And as a church, we just want to open our arms and accept those people and love on them regardless of anything that may be wrong in their life.”

A teacher turned preacher, Czarnecki is the founder and lead pastor of Forever Free Church. He resigned from teaching math at Bridgewater Middle School in January to launch the church. He said his church is a nondenominational church with no outside affiliation or outside financial support.

“What Forever Free Church represents is we want people to come into our fellowship and we want to be able to love on them the way Jesus loves on us. Our mission is we exist so confined people can find freedom.” 

— Pastor Matthew Czarnecki

Czarnecki said it took seven years for the vision of his church to bear fruit. He originally envisioned the idea for the church in January 2011 after completing his masters degree in divinity from Liberty University and being formally ordained as a minister at Grace Point Church in Apopka. At the time, he left teaching to be a full-time minister.

“I felt a sense to go plant (a church) in West Orange County,” Czarnecki said. “I left that position (with Grace Point Church) to actually pursue that opportunity to do what I felt I was being called to do, and I hit some closed doors at that point.”

In that moment, Czarnecki went back into teaching. He taught at Riverside Elementary for about two-and-one-half years. He then taught at Apopka Middle School for three years and went on to teach at Bridgewater Middle School for three years before leaving earlier this year.

“I resigned, but I called it my retirement,” Czarnecki said. “We actually had a retirement party because we — as a group — we felt if I’m going to call people to live a certain way, I have to be there full-time. Even if it meant giving up a job that was a paid salary to become a volunteer lead pastor of this church. … Once I left that (last teaching) position, there were a lot of tears at Bridgewater because I was ‘Mr. C.’ It was a big deal. I loved my kids. I loved the staff there.”

In October 2017, he met with six people to discuss the vision he had for the church. The church held its first service in a home belonging to one of its members in January 2018 — the same month he stopped teaching.

“It was just meeting the right people,” Czarnecki said. “We had a discussion about this vision for a church that I had (wanted) to plant in West Orange County. We know that there’s a lot of growth happening in this area. A new church for a new community … is really positive. (We) outlined this vision for Forever Free Church and got some people on board with us.”

Czarnecki said there are many similarities between his styles of teaching and preaching and his delivery methods are the same from the classroom to the pulpit.

“As an educator for over a decade, I always strived to provide a dynamic learning environment for all my students — my goal was to make lessons fun, interesting and captivating,” Czarnecki said. “As a preacher, I strive to bring the same dynamic teaching style. Not much has changed in my delivery from the classroom to the pulpit — except instead of math, I talk about Jesus and how He can help us live forever free.”


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