Over the past two years or so, God has been stirring something in our hearts that at first we couldn’t quite explain. All we knew is that our ministry vision was changing. Little did we know that a new journey was just beginning. The change in vision came with an increased burden to reach and disciple people for Christ that weren’t being reached. Early on we began to sense that God may be leading us to start a church but our first big question was where God might want us to plant. Without a clear answer, we also quickly began to question how to start a church. The one thing we knew we needed to do was pray for guidance and study God’s Word to discover what He was leading us to do along with where and how. I also began talking to others who had planted churches including Pastor Jay as well as other trusted mentors to get some wisdom and insight about how to move forward.
Through that process, I found out about a church planting conference in Orlando called Exponential which I had the opportunity to attend in April of 2012. While there, the vision God was giving me was becoming clearer and the burden to start a church was increasing. Around that same time, God began to open my eyes to the spiritual needs in own neighborhood and in the Holly Springs area, making it increasingly clear that He was leading us to plant a church here. However, I still wasn’t sure how to proceed or how to get the ball rolling forward, so we went back to doing what we knew to do – praying and studying the Word. I was also reading books, listening to podcasts, and talking to whoever I could about how to move forward. Meanwhile we looked for opportunities to intentionally build relationships with our neighbors for the purpose of sharing Christ with them.
This past spring, the vision God had given us was growing along with the burden to reach people but we still had no idea how to do it or what the next step should be. We felt that God had been confirming that He was calling us to plant a church, but we needed more significant confirmation along with clear direction on what to do next. In April, Dawn and I had the opportunity to attend the Exponential Conference together to further explore this calling and seek the confirmation and clarity we needed.
We knew that the conference would provide some really good training in a variety of different areas related to church planting, but we felt that if we were going to plant a successful church, we would need more training than we could get at a 3 day conference. We had heard about some residency training programs, but didn’t really know enough about them to know if that would be a good fit for us. At the beginning of one of the main sessions, they played a commercial about a residency program that prompted us to go by their booth and at least get some information about it. It quickly became clear that a residency program would provide the training we would need to be successful, but still weren’t completely sure it was a good fit for us. As we continued to talk to the head of the program along with the current residents, we were told that they only had 3 positions available and they were at the end of their recruiting cycle, so if we were interested we would need to go back to the hotel that night and fill out the application. Dawn and I talked abut it and prayed about it and decided to take a shot, hoping that this might help provide some of the confirmation and clarity we were praying for and help us get the training we knew we needed.
The application process was much more in depth than we anticipated. Part of the process required us to travel to Nashville for an “Assessment Retreat” where we would be analyzed and grilled for two days in order to determine whether or not we have what it takes to plant a church. During the assessment we met with a counselor, marriage counselor, leadership coach, communication (preaching) coach, church planting experts, and several others along with 11 other candidates. Some parts of the assessment were really intense but overall it was an affirming experience. We were told at the beginning of the retreat that less than half of those who are assessed are approved to proceed with training as a part of this church planting network (called “Launch”). As we left the retreat, they told us not to expect to get our results for 1-2 weeks.
4 days later, I got a call from the head of the residency program that we were applying to at Brentwood Baptist Church (also where the assessment retreat was). He told me that me that there were only a few candidates who were approved and that we were in that group! In addition, we were offered one of the 3 residency positions at Brentwood!! God answered our prayer for confirmation as were approved through the assessment and answered our prayer for clarity on how to move forward and get training through being accepted to the residency! God has answered our prayers in undeniable ways!
This has all happened extremely fast – much more so than we ever would have anticipated. The residency program begins on August 1st, so our last Sunday at Cary FBC will be July 28th. At that point we will relocate to Nashville for a year of intense training after which we will come back to Holly Springs to start a church to try to reach the many people in this rapidly growing area. The residency includes a monthly stipend for living expenses which will continue for a total of five years. Years 1 & 2 will be 100% and will be reduced by about a 3rd each year after that. We will also receive a one time launch package to cover some of the expenses associated with launching the church. This financial support is a huge blessing and we will be praying and trusting that God will provide the support and partnerships we will need to effectively reach this community for Christ.
We are excited, humbled, terrified and sad as we step into this new chapter. We are sad that we will be leaving FBC, but we hope to stay as connected as we possibly can with the students and families God has allowed us to get so close to during the time we will be gone for training and as we return next year. We also hope to have a partnership with Cary FBC that would extend our relationship with the church family well into the future. It is impossible to articulate how much we love and appreciate each student, parent, volunteer, and staff member that we have been so blessed to get to know and serve with. God has blessed, stretched, grown, and taught us so very much through you and the experiences we’ve had here with you! One of the absolute greatest blessings of our whole lives took place while we were here with you – the birth of our precious little girl – and that is just one more reason this church will always have a very special place in our hearts!
We greatly appreciate your love, support, encouragement and prayers as we seek to be obedient to the call God has placed on our lives. Our prayers will be with you also as you continue the work of reaching and discipling those in Cary. We will continue to be available through Facebook, email, text message, phone, Skype, and would love to connect in person if you are in the Nashville area and when we come back to visit over the course of the next year. We will also start a blog and a Facebook group for those who would like to keep up with our journey. We love you all and are so grateful to have shared this season of life with you and we can’t wait to see what God has for us and for Cary FBC next!
Spreading His Fame…
Todd, Dawn & Bailey
“May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” – Philippians 1:2-6