Letter from 2023 Senior Pastor, Jay Strother
Dear Church Family,
As we look back 2023 was a historic year in the life of our church. We can celebrate God’s faithfulness to us in countless ways. On Easter, we launched a new campus, West End Columbia, that was immediately filled to near capacity under the leadership of Brandon Abbott. We called Brandon Hays, a new Campus and Teaching Pastor to The Church at Harpeth Heights. We celebrated Senior Pastor Mike Glenn’s retirement after 32 years of faithful ministry at Brentwood Baptist Church. We called John Joseph to be the next pastor of the Station Hill campus as I received the “baton” from Mike and became Senior Pastor on October 1. It’s been a huge year of change. But as you have heard both Mike and I say, one thing that is certain is that things change. But the love of Christ for a lost and broken world does not. That’s why we’re more excited about our mission than ever!
Even in a year of change, God continued to work in powerful ways, which is a testimony to His faithfulness and the hard work of our campuses and ministries. This annual report is just that – a testimony to all God has done in and through us. In Acts 14 (one of my favorite chapters about ministry in the New Testament), Paul and Barnabas return to Antioch at the end of their first mission journey and “reported everything God had done with them and that he opened the door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27). Consider this Annual Report that kind of celebration of what God has done.
I’d encourage you to spend some time with this report. Praise God with us that he’s found for us a perfect future home of our Avenue South campus in a strategic neighborhood in the city of Nashville. Celebrate how we’re impacting the families of now and future leaders through NextGen, Special Needs, and Foster and Adoption Ministries. Watch the videos that capture the stories of needs met, communities served, churches planted, and global workers launched. And then prayerfully consider how you can use what God has given you – your time, creativity, experience, and giving- to join us in our mission, “Engaging the whole person with the whole gospel of Jesus Christ.”
I’m honored to be your pastor. I can’t wait to see what God does in 2024 and all the year ahead!
You are loved, and you are sent!
Letter from 2023 Trustee Chair, Joey Moss
While it is natural for us to leap into the new year and focus on all that is ahead of us, we must recognize and celebrate the momentous year that was 2023 in the life of Brentwood Baptist Church. There were so many significant moments that shaped the year, including settling into the new worship center on the Brentwood campus, kicking off construction at our new Avenue South campus, welcoming a new campus pastor at Harpeth Heights, and launching an incredibly successful new campus in Columbia, the Church at West End!
And while those alone would be enough to mark a milestone year, we had the joy of celebrating the amazing 32-year leadership and ministry of Mike Glenn as Senior Pastor. The opportunity to praise the Lord for all that He has accomplished during and through Mike’s ministry was a blessing, and we are beyond grateful for the service of Mike to God’s kingdom. The Lord’s faithfulness continued to be abundantly clear to us through the Spirit’s leading to confirm Jay Strother as the third senior pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church. God has quickly affirmed for us all why Jay is God’s appointed man to lead us into His future plans for Brentwood Baptist Church.
In 2023, we welcomed almost 5,000 first-time guests, averaged over 6,100 in attendance weekly, and, most importantly, celebrated over 315 baptisms across our campuses. The Lord is most definitely moving in our church, and I’m excited and grateful He welcomes us to be a part of it.
2023 Trustee Chairman
2023 has been a remarkable year for Avenue South, marked by a 37% increase in baptisms and an 184% increase in membership. We welcomed 74 active members, up from 26 in the previous year. Additionally, 112 people participated in Gospel Conversation Training, reflecting our community’s growing commitment to spreading the Gospel.
Stephen and Carly Field: A Commitment to Service
In January, we celebrated the baptism of church member Stephen Field, who soon became an active member alongside his wife, Carly. As regular volunteers in our Connection Ministry and Next Gen Ministry, their dedication and faithfulness in serving together have been a joy to witness and a blessing to our community.
Isabella Shrader: From Seeker to Believer
Before coming to faith, Isabella joined a Bible Reading Group in the Fall of 2022, searching to learn more about the Bible. Her group supported her through this journey, incorporating commentaries, meetings with ministers, and in-depth discussions. Witnessing the group’s love for Jesus, Isabella accepted Christ at the start of 2023. Her baptism on April 23rd, carried out by two members of her group, marked a significant milestone in her faith journey.
Ken Norris: A Life Transformed
Ken Norris’s path to our church is a story of hope and transformation. At a low point in his life and recovering from a severe work accident, Ken found solace and support at our church. Our deacons played a crucial role, offering him rides to church and fostering a supportive environment. Through discipleship with Lee Swartz, our deacons, and Aaron, Ken experienced the powerful work of the Holy Spirit, leading to his salvation in 2022. Today, Ken walks joyfully with the Lord, actively participates in our connection team, and was nominated to be a deacon in 2023.
2023 was a year of remarkable growth and spiritual fruit at the Brentwood Campus. In the middle of transition, as Mike Glenn transitioned out of the Senior Pastor role, and Jay Strother accepted the call to Senior Pastor our church, we witnessed God’s faithful hand. This year, we celebrated a record-breaking 141 baptisms, each one a story of someone going from death to life!
Throughout the year, our church embraced numerous opportunities to serve the broader community, including local schools, fire departments, and denominational partners, reaffirming our role as faithful stewards of God’s blessings.
Nurturing the Next Generation
The Preschool joyfully expanded, opening its doors to more families and educators and adding five new classrooms to accommodate a ten percent average growth in attendance. In 2023, Preschool had their highest attendance on a single Sunday, with 337 preschoolers.
The Young Adults ministry experienced a dynamic surge, growing from 5 to 22 groups! This growth is a testament to our deepening dedication to discipleship and fostering a strong community bond. The Brentwood Campus also brought on board Cameron Russell, who will serve as our Groups Minister to College & Young Adults.
The Student Ministry welcomed 29 new leaders to their team, a record number of leaders! 20 of these people were young adults who were mobilized from a life group to serve within our church. These new leaders were energetic, confident, and full of eagerness to learn what it is like to serve faithfully within the church.
Reaching Our Neighbors this Christmas
‘A Brentwood Christmas’ concerts were a highlight of the year, drawing a record-attendance of 10,712 across five concerts. The Christmas Eve service alone saw a 29% increase in attendance, welcoming 7,436 people.
These numbers, impressive as they are, only tell part of the story. The heart of our church was reflected in the volunteers who served this Christmas including 211 choir members, 75 instrumentalists, 60 kids, 30 production team members and 245 connections volunteers.
Foster & Adoption Ministry
Our Foster & Adoption Ministry flourished in 2023. With Elizabeth Cochran joining as our first Foster & Adoption Ministry Coordinator, we strengthened our support network for foster and adoptive families. Our partnership with the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) grew, leading to meaningful projects and generous donations that directly impacted the lives of foster children. Over the summer, through the offering at Vacation Bible School, we were able to renovate the cottages in Davidson County for kids in between homes and DCS Staff. A member collected over 100 bikes for local kids in foster care, and our ministry served over 100 kids in foster families in our church.
Embrace Special Needs Ministry
Embrace Community, the day program for adults with disabilities, expanded its reach, doubling the program days to better serve the growing need for respite care and community engagement. Serving 38 students, this expansion was made possible by the unwavering support of our church community, both financially and through dedicated volunteering, allowing us to offer this essential service at no cost to families.
In 2023, our Deaf Church made significant strides in fostering an inclusive community by welcoming hearing family members alongside our deaf congregants. Through initiatives such as Coffee Chats and the ‘Dads with Deaf Children’ event, we’ve seen remarkable transformations in understanding and communication within families. A particularly impactful moment was during our April event, where a hearing father shared his journey to understanding sign language’s crucial role in bonding with his deaf son. This led to a heartfelt reconciliation and the teenager’s commitment to follow Jesus. These developments in our Deaf Church not only reflect our growing inclusivity but also the powerful ways in which God is working within our community to bridge gaps and bring people closer to Him.
In 2023, Steve Wilkinson transitioned from a ministry resident to Student & Connections Minister and we welcomed a new Campus + Teaching Pastor, Dr. Brandon Hays! God has been so faithful to Harpeth Heights this year, and we’ve seen Him at work in people’s lives as we celebrate baptisms, groups growing, and members going on mission!
Jessica’s Transformation: From Seeking to Belonging
In December 2023, a 20-year-old woman, Jessica, committed her life to Jesus. Raised in the Catholic faith, she had drifted away and felt a longing to reconnect with God. Her return to the Catholic church left her feeling unfulfilled, but an invitation from her boyfriend to visit The Church at Harpeth Heights led to a transformative two-month journey. At Harpeth, Jessica encountered a different experience; instead of having to earn God’s love, she learned how God loved her so much He made a way to save her. This newfound understanding of God’s love, as something given rather than earned, was a pivotal change for her. Eager to become part of our church community, Jessica had a conversation with us about her faith. During this meeting, she expressed her desire to follow Jesus as her Savior and King. Jessica was baptized in January at Harpeth Heights.
Backyard Kids Club: Engaging the Younger Generation
Our Backyard Kids Club returned to campus and successfully engaged children, predominantly from outside our church. Notably, three children from the club expressed a desire to receive Christ and get baptized, demonstrating the club’s impact in spreading the Gospel to the younger community.
Ross’s Story: Finding Community and Purpose
Ross, a 23-year-old man, began his journey with our church in the summer of 2023. Ross committed his life to Jesus, followed through with baptism, and has become an active member of our community. He now serves on our host team and participates in several small groups. What stands out about Ross is his genuine love and enthusiasm for Jesus and Harpeth Church. His continued return to our church was greatly influenced by the warmth and hospitality he encountered here, a stark contrast to his experiences at other churches.
This fall, The Church at Lockeland Springs reached a remarkable milestone, celebrating the 120th anniversary of its congregation at 1601 Holly St. in East Nashville. This brought our community together in fellowship, sharing stories and reflections on the enduring mission that has been the heartbeat of Lockeland Baptist Church since its inception. It was a time to trace the threads of our rich history and to recognize and appreciate how God has faithfully moved in our community for over a century, honoring the mission and guiding us through various seasons.
Lockeland Springs continued to grow. We launched three new small groups, providing additional opportunities for our members to connect, grow, and delve deeper into their faith journey. This year also marked the beginning of a new journey as we extended our outreach to Birmingham, UK, to work with refugees, demonstrating our commitment to serving beyond our local community. Additionally, we forged a new partnership with the Explore School at the Martha O’Bryan Center, an initiative aimed at supporting local teachers and thereby strengthening our ties with the surrounding community.
In 2023, Lockeland Springs also launched Focus Studies. These six-week-long studies are centered around biblical truths and concepts, offering an in-depth exploration of scripture and its application in our daily lives. This initiative is part of our continued effort to deepen our understanding of the Bible and to foster a more profound spiritual growth among our members.
Tennessee Alliance for Kids Christmas Party
In early December, the Nolensville Campus hosted a special Tennessee Alliance for Kids Christmas party, specifically for adult children aged 18 and above. This private event, organized by Megan Ladd, our Connections and Missions Minister, was a unique occasion designed to celebrate and uplift these young adults. The party featured gifts, games, music, dinner, and a photo booth, creating a festive and enjoyable atmosphere. A standout moment was the spontaneous involvement of our Monday men’s group. Informed that their regular meeting space would be unavailable, they instead chose to volunteer at the event, exemplifying our campus value of ‘Starting at the Second Mile’ in action.
Outreach Initiatives: Connect Smyrna & Murfreesboro
Our first-ever service projects in the Smyrna and Murfreesboro communities marked a significant step in our outreach efforts. We supported Stewarts Creek High School’s Atlas program, which assists families in transition, by providing 40 stockings filled with requested items. Additionally, our volunteers dedicated their time at Greenhouse Ministries in Murfreesboro, a center offering various services to help individuals improve their life circumstances. These initiatives reflect our commitment to meeting the needs of our wider community and making a tangible difference.
Student Ministry: Local Mission Engagement
This summer, our student ministry embarked on its first local mission engagement in Nolensville. Activities included kids clubs, a nursing home ministry, and landscaping for a senior adult widower. The success of this mission served as a catalyst, inspiring our students to take on leadership roles in kids ministry, kids ministry music, and student small groups. This initiative demonstrated the power of active service in fostering leadership and spiritual growth among our youth.
A Story of Faith: Easton Reeder’s Journey
Easton Reeder, a 6th grader in our ministry was diagnosed with a brain tumor 18 months ago. Throughout his challenging journey, Easton has displayed remarkable faith, supported by his family who have been actively engaged with our church. This year, Easton’s younger brother, inspired by Easton’s faith, became a Christian. On Christmas Eve, in a powerful and emotional service, Easton had the honor of baptizing his brother.
At Station Hill, the past year has been one of transition and anticipation, particularly with the calling of John Joseph as our new Campus + Teaching Pastor. His arrival marks a new chapter in our church’s life, one where we eagerly await to witness how the Lord will continue to work through our community in 2024. We’ve also welcomed Stephanie Prince as our Connections Minister and seen Kristen Patton step into her new role as Associate Children’s Minister. Amidst these changes, we’ve seen a profound display of the Lord’s faithfulness and provision, reaffirming our trust in His guidance for the future.
Worship Ministry on Mission
Instead of our traditional annual Christmas Concert at Station Hill, our Worship Ministry embarked on a unique mission to share the Gospel through music in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. This year, we held six Christmas Concerts, each narrating the story of the Gospel in three movements: ‘The King is coming,’ ‘The King is here,’ and ‘The King will come again.’ This approach allowed us to reach out to the community in a new and dynamic way, spreading the message of Christ’s birth, life, and anticipated return through song and fellowship.
ESL Ministry Growth
Our ESL program at Station Hill has experienced significant growth, now serving an average of 40 students every Wednesday, with total attendance reaching around 50, including teachers and volunteers. The program attracts students from over two dozen countries, including a recent increase in Korean nationals due to the new battery plant in Spring Hill. This year, our ESL director and co-director received certification, equipping them to aid other churches in establishing similar programs. A notable feature of our ESL classes is the integration of Bible time, where students, including a Russian atheist who often translates for others, are introduced to the Gospel.
The Church at West End was formally launched in 2023 with its first Sunday Service on Easter Sunday, April 9. In a short time, we experienced remarkable growth, quickly expanding to two Sunday services with an average attendance of 250 people. The momentum continued into the fall with the introduction of Next Gen programming, with 51 preschoolers, 64 elementary schoolers and 66 students.
We’ve hired a strong team to lead our efforts in Columbia. Brandon Abbott is our Campus + Teaching Pastor, with Elaine Bartke supporting as the Administrative Assistant. Lauren Denton is the Next Gen Director, Rick Elsey oversees Groups and Care, and Matthew Enoch is our Worship Minister. This team is dedicated to bringing the message of hope in Jesus Christ to Columbia and the neighboring areas.
Our vision is to leverage and establish groups for fellowship and spiritual growth, aiming to nurture healthy congregations dedicated to serving Columbia for the gospel’s sake. Our mission in Columbia reflects our broader commitment to engaging everyone with the gospel of Jesus Christ, in all places and at all times.
2023 was a year of significant spiritual milestones and growth at West Franklin, marked by the celebration of 16 baptisms, including 10 adults! This year also welcomed a valuable addition to our team, with Truett Ross joining us as the Groups Minister.
The Wallis Family: A Year of Faith and Growth
2023 was been a pivotal year for the Wallis family at the Church at West Franklin. From the moment they joined, things started changing, especially for their son Jonathan. He found a real connection with Josh, our young adult leader, and this relationship led Jonathan to a profound moment on Good Friday — he accepted Christ as his savior. Jonathan then led his brother Jacob to Christ. Jay and Julie Wallis have stepped up as leaders of their life group, embracing roles they hadn’t imagined for themselves. Jonathan’s commitment to his faith was further demonstrated when he chose a mission trip to South Asia over a family vacation to Florida. The Wallis family’s experience at West Franklin has been transformative, solidifying the church as more than a place of worship, but a true family of believers.
Steve Kennedy: Healing Through Grief Share
Steve Kennedy’s journey through grief after losing his wife led him to Grief Share at West Franklin. This program offered him much-needed support and a realization that he was not alone in his suffering. Encouraged by a persistent internal voice and a clear sign from God, Steve began facilitating Grief Share sessions himself. Through helping others, he found his own grief easier to manage, understanding that God’s love and peace are ever-present in times of sorrow. In the past year, nearly 20 people have completed the Grief Share course at West Franklin, each leaving with newfound peace and the knowledge that, though grief may persist, it can be borne with God’s help.
This year at Woodbine, we’ve been blessed with the opportunity to extend our global reach by sending out two units overseas. Andre is now committed to a 5-year service in Southeast Asia, while Wes and Tamara have begun their journey in West Asia. Celebrating our global workers as they follow the Great Commission and express their love for the nations has been a true highlight for our community.
In Timothy 3, Paul laid out several criteria for leadership in the church. We believe good leaders are not only called by God, but developed by mentorships, training, and investment – just as Paul invested in Timothy. God has enabled us to offer several opportunities to help leaders grow and pursue their callings, two of which are the Ministry Residency and TNT.
Ministry Residency Program
After graduating with four Ministry Residents in June of 2023, Brentwood Baptist brought on a new cohort in July and helped equip and train eight residents in 2023, giving them various ministry responsibilities. The second-year residents included Kiefer Johnson (Connections and Discipleship), Amanda Hines (Missions), Billy Mahaffey (Discipleship and Students), and Daniel Sibrian (Worship). The new cohort is made up of Corey Howse (Pastoral), Kirby Cochran (Women’s Ministry), Julia Blahnik (Student Ministry / Girls Ministry), and Isaac Elliott (Student and Collegiate Ministry). This is one more way that Brentwood Baptist is raising up the next generation of those called to vocational ministry.
TNT (Timothy and Titus): Lay Leadership Equipping
Our Timothy and Titus (TNT) leadership class saw 16 graduates in the past year with another 25 currently enrolled. TNT is a one-year leadership development initiative that equips and encourages lay leaders within the church to grow as spiritual leaders and to live for Christ in all areas, including ministry, disciple-making, and the advancement of the kingdom of God. The course is broken into four quarters covering Biblical Studies with an emphasis on the Gospels, Basic Christian Theology, Ministry in the Twenty-first Century, and Spiritual Leadership. The course concludes with the student’s ministry presentation on how he or she will serve God’s kingdom inside or outside the walls of the church. We look forward to seeing how God will use these men and women to grow His kingdom!
EQUIP Partnership with Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Through our relationship with Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Brentwood Baptist was able to offer four classes in 2023: Bible Exposition 1, Bible Exposition 2, Christian Missions, and Christian Leadership. Students are allowed to audit these classes for a nominal fee or take them for seminary credit. Most classes have 8-14 students. This is part of our church’s strategy to equip Christian leaders to serve the church.
Across all nine of our campuses, Brentwood Baptist commissioned 5 new full-time and 13 short-term (3-6 month) Global Workers to 16 countries around the world to share the true Gospel and make disciples.
Throughout our campuses, 300 members participated in short-term global mission journeys, actively engaging in our global outreach and disciple-making efforts with mission partners around the globe.
We are actively committed to supporting and nurturing new churches in their mission to spread the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer to the lostness in their region and the world, and we view healthy churches as the breeding grounds for discipleship and evangelism.
Through intentional partnerships, like the one formed with Lincoya Hills Baptist Church and The Rising Church, Brentwood Baptist is not only revitalizing struggling congregations but also actively collaborating with churches in their region to make disciples and share the gospel, demonstrating their dedication to building and supporting vibrant communities of faith.
The Lamphron family’s commitment to the Pursue Campaign showcases their unwavering dedication to the growth of the Church at Avenue South, mirroring the strength and resolve seen in various members of our church. Despite their age, their children have shown remarkable initiative in supporting the Pursue Campaign, by each committing to give to the Pursue Campaign. A decision rooted in their deep commitment to seeing God’s kingdom grow.