Luis Ruiz and his family made the decision to move to Brandon after connecting with Bell Shoals Church’s next generation pastor.

Bell Shoals Church welcomed Luis Ruiz to its staff to serve as the new student pastor in the Brandon campus’ next generation ministry.

Ruiz joined Bell Shoals after serving at a church in Lakeland for 18 years, where he worked as a student, college and next generation pastor. As Bell Shoals’ student pastor, Ruiz will lead middle school through college student programs and events that allow students to connect with each other and with God.

“I get to help students walk through some of the most transient times in their life and help them use biblical principles and biblical wisdom to move forward into being who God called them to be,” Ruiz said about his role.

The 32-year-old knew he wanted to serve in student ministry since high school because of the influence his own student pastor had on him growing up.

“The more I engaged with that, the more I had opportunities to serve in the student ministry, the more God just aligned my passions to be in student ministry,” Ruiz explained.

He met Bell Shoals’ next generation pastor, Bruce Roberts, through church conferences and Roberts talked to him about joining the Brandon team. After getting to know Roberts better and praying over the decision, Ruiz and his family chose to move to the Brandon area.

“I have absolutely loved getting to know the staff. They are all so intentional and have been so helpful in the transition for me,” Ruiz said about how welcomed he has felt.

Ruiz hopes to pour into student leaders and parents to cultivate stronger connections and create lasting programs for future church leaders.

“Eventually, I would love to develop a comprehensive student leadership program where our students are actually mobilized to lead and given ownership over the ministry. … Whatever it is that God would have for them in the future, [I hope] that they would be equipped as a leader because of their time at our church,” Ruiz said.

Bell Shoals offers weekly services for students of all ages to connect with their peers and with God. For more information on Bell Shoals’ student ministry, visit

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Lily Belcher
Lily Belcher is a writer for the Osprey Observer. She started as an intern in the summer of 2020 and has continued to write for the Osprey Observer since completing her internship. Lily is majoring in mass communications at the University of South Florida and is a staff writer for the university’s paper, The Oracle. She enjoys writing about local nonprofit organizations and community role models who have made an impact on her hometown.