IMG_3363I’m totally blown away whenever I take a minute to stop and reflect on how God has blessed us and what He is doing in our hearts and lives! Thank you so much for allowing God to use you to bless us by being a part of our journey! It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving has already come and gone and this year we truly have more to be thankful for than ever before. We truly hope that you had a blessed Thanksgiving celebration last week!

The time is flying by! It’s crazy that Thanksgiving is already behind us and Christmas will be here soon. We are so amazed at all that God has been doing in us, teaching us, and showing us while we have been here in the residency! It’s awesome to see how God is at work bringing some of the major pieces of the vision and even some of the details together for the church plant.

So much has been happening over the past month! I’ll try to just give you a quick summary of what we’ve been up to for the past few weeks and spare you the details (until we see you).

The Mill at Winshape (Click to see more pictures)

The Mill at Winshape

The first weekend in November, we went on a marriage retreat with the other TRAIN residents and their wives (including one of the residents from last year) to Winshape Retreat Center in Rome, GA on the campus of Berry College. As you can see from the pictures, it was absolutely gorgeous! We went at just the right time when the leaves were at their peak color. It was so nice to be able to just take some time out from all the craziness, focus on our marriage, get some rest, enjoy the scenery, eat some amazing food, and spend some time with the other residents. (And Bailey got to spend the weekend with her cousins in Atlanta.)

The weekend after the retreat, Steve (one of the residents) and I helped out at the Global Impact Conference at Thompson’s Station Church just a couple of miles from our house. The conference was kind of a hybrid event – a missions conference and a Disciple Now Weekend rolled into one. Steve led a group of 8th grade guys and I had the privilege of hanging out with some awesome (and energetic) 6th grade guys! Saturday afternoon, Steve and I had the chance to share about our church planting journeys along with others who shared about their call to missions. Sunday morning we also shared in a couple of different adult LifeGroups.

The speaker on Sunday morning was a pastor and author from Las Vegas named Vance Pittman who is also part of the Launch Network that provides the training we are going through. The weekend concluded with a Missions Banquet on Sunday night where Vance spoke again and both times knocked it out of the park. It was awesome to see a church with such a huge heart for missions and I loved having the chance to hang out with students and dig into God’s Word with them. It definitely made me miss the Cary FBC students even more!

Lights at Gaylord Opryland Hotel! (Click for more pictures)

Lights at Gaylord Opryland Hotel! (Click for more pictures)

On a personal note, we went out to celebrate my birthday a few nights ago and visited the Gaylord Opryland Hotel which was decorated for Christmas. Wow. It was a lot like going to Disney! The decorations inside and out were unbelievable! They even had a life-sized nativity outside and a fountain show inside along with some of the most impressive and elaborate decorations I’ve ever seen. We also had our family portraits done yesterday near our house and we will share them with you as soon as we get them back.

Our training has been going really well as we have been doing lots of interviews, reading a ton, and wrestling with several different things related to God’s vision for our churches and communities. The last 3 sessions have covered developing measurable systems and structures, developing leadership teams to execute the vision, and developing execution and implementation strategies that will produce positive results. This coming week, we will have our last Launch training to cover the 12th core competency which is persevering through difficulty to get to the next level. 

As you can see, there has been a lot of focus on the nuts and bolts of implementing and accomplishing God’s plan for the church in Holly Springs. It is interesting to think through some key aspects and details about the vision but we also have to keep in mind that we are still several months from hitting the ground to get started so some things are bound to be tweaked and changed between now and then. That being said, some of the big pieces of the picture are becoming much clearer and our excitement continues to build as God increases our passion and burden to connect people in Holly Springs to a relationship with Jesus. We are working through drafting our Constitution and Bylaws, our Articles of Incorporation have been approved by that state of North Carolina, we have opened a bank account for the church – and we will be able to begin receiving tax deducible donations directly very soon!

One of the highlights of the training this month was the chance to spend some time with Lance Ford and Brad Brisco who are church planters, authors, and started the Missional Church Network. They really challenged and encouraged us in some key areas – specifically in reference to keeping an outward, missional focus in all aspects of what we do as a church and constantly fighting the temptation to turn inward. We are convinced and convicted that God wants us to plant a church that does all it can to connect people to an overflowing relationship with Jesus, help them grow, and make a positive impact in the community in the name of Christ.

One of the things that I am most excited about at the moment is the chance to meet many of our friends back in North Carolina in a couple of weeks to pray, share vision, and celebrate what God has been up to and what He is going to do! The event will take place on Sat., Dec. 21st from 4:30-6:30pm at the Holly Springs Cultural Center (300 W Ballentine St, Holly Springs) and dinner will be provided. Please RSVP by emailing me at toddrcole@gmail.com by Sat., Dec. 14th if you will be able to join us. One of the big things we will share at this event is the name of the church and how it fits with the vision that God has given us! We really hope that you and your family will join us if you will be in town and available!  > Check out the Facebook event

Thank you so much for your love, support, prayers, and encouragement through this journey! It means more to us than you could ever know and we couldn’t do it without you! We hope to hear from you soon through Facebook, twitter, Instagram, text, email, letter, card, smoke signals, or maybe even in person!!

Love,
Todd, Dawn & Bailey!

P.S. – We have a quick update video coming later today so be on the lookout!

If you feel led to support us and participate financially, checks can be made out to “Brentwood Baptist Church” with “NC 2014″ in the memo line and sent to Brentwood Baptist Church | 7777 Concord Rd. | Brentwood, TN 37027. Contributions are tax deductible, anonymous, and VERY appreciated!!