2021 was the year we were supposed to get back to “normal.” We didn’t know what would happen, and now, we’re beginning to wonder if we’ll ever get back to normal—whatever that is. We are still dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks. And every week, it seems, we learn a different letter of the Greek alphabet because a new variant comes to light.
While we may not have gotten back to normal, we have learned that the key to our future is in our abilities to adapt. As we find opportunities, we respond with the talents and gifts of our congregations. Think about it. Nothing we’re doing was foreseen by those men and women who started our church more than 50 years ago.
The Deaf Church. Kairos. Our multi-campus strategy. All of these and more came from conversations with our community and hearing the hearts of our members.
In 2021, we had the ground breaking for The Rowen Glenn Center for Special Needs. And this year, we will celebrate even more.
We have set a goal to be part of 100 healthy congregations. We’re already engaged with 30 churches and adding more quickly. We’ve updated our campuses in order to prepare for the next adventure God is opening up for us.
All of this is possible because of your faithfulness. Remember: get in worship, get in a group, and get connected to a point of service.
God is up to something. Be sure you’re a part of it.
What a year we had in 2021. During the midst of the unknowns, highs, and lows, our church truly experienced the love of Christ and extended His gift to those around us. All eight of our campuses faithfully lived our mission of engaging the whole person with the whole gospel of Jesus Christ, and it is a joy to reflect on the ways He has been at work through each of our congregations. It has been a gift to serve and to walk alongside you this year. Please review the 2021 Annual Report to learn more about what God has done through our campuses as we prepare for His leading in 2022. Thank you.
This past year, our staff and congregation placed greater priority on becoming a campus of disciples of Jesus who go and make disciples (DxD). Because so many people have experienced increased loneliness and isolation the past couple of years, we focused on strengthening the engagement of biblical community through groups. We equipped 16 new group leaders through intentional training, which resulted in 9 new groups being launched at the campus. Disciple-making through our mentor relationship ministry continues to grow, as evidenced by nearly 60 people at our campus in these one-on-one biblical relationships. Additionally, we’ve equipped 130 church members for gospel conversations in the last year alone. This means that over a two-year span we have equipped nearly 50% of our church members to share the gospel more confidently and consistently.
We’ve always valued our sending capacity – equipping and mobilizing members into the mission field – just as much as we value our Sunday morning seating capacity. That was never more evident than sending out our fourth full-time global missionary. Forrest Smith was an original launch team member for our campus, and he eventually led and taught small group Bible studies as well as apologetics classes. While serving on a short-term mission journey to Spain in 2018 with other campus members, he felt the Lord calling him into full-time missions. We were delighted to help him gain clarity around this calling to the mission field and for our congregation to join him in partnership as he now serves in Paris, France. Additionally, once global mission travel became possible after the pandemic, we were thrilled to have 56 people participate in mission journeys. Another 256 people participated in local missions through our multiple Serving Saturday opportunities. Many of these hours serving in the community were invested in community partners with education, healthcare, and addressing the needs of those living in poverty. One example that brought great joy to our hearts was the establishment of a year-round food pantry to partner primarily with Carter Lawrence Elementary, which included the distribution of 2,500 individuals meals.
We praise God for His faithfulness through our campus, and we thank you for your prayers and partnership in ministry.
Alan Murdock couldn’t have anticipated how God was at work when his fifteen-year-old daughter Lily asked him to join her on the students’ mission journey journey to Chicago. He didn’t expect too much to come out of his time serving on the hot dog and car wash team, but the Lord had bigger plans for him and for a man named John who wandered into his line for lunch. Alan invited John to eat lunch with him and listened as he began to share his story. It was then that the Lord moved in their time together, using not much more than a hotdog and the willingness to have a conversation with a stranger. Alan shared with his new friend the story of Joseph and how despite what others intended for evil, God intended for good. As a result of Alan’s obedience to the Holy Spirit’s leading, John accepted the good news of Jesus for himself and found his new story in Christ.
In 2021, we focused strongly on our Foster and Adoption Ministry, or FAM for short. Through this ministry, we are walking alongside families in our church and community as they seek to care well for children in need. We are connecting families who are interested in fostering and adoption with the resources, support, and encouragement they need in order to open their hearts and homes so that more individuals in Middle Tennessee would come to know the love and hope found in the person of Jesus Christ. We’ve been able to offer classes and informational sessions to those with questions about the world of fostering and adoption, as well as connect them to others who have gone before them on this journey. We can’t wait to see what God will continue to do through this incredible ministry opportunity!
In 2021, our food support ministries were catalytic in fostering relationships and connecting our campus with the community. Through nine separate huge food distribution events, emergency food bags for schools and the rescue squad, and weekly appointments for our on-site pantry, we connected with 5,083 of our neighbors. We had over 2,000 gospel conversations, prayed with 2,284 people, and had 223 volunteers from our campus and community serve. Altogether we distributed 257,544 pounds of food and 520 packages of diapers. We are grateful for the opportunities the food support ministries have opened up for us to establish relationships with local businesses, schools, and neighbors. We are so looking forward to seeing all God has planned for 2022.
Finding creative and safe ways to mobilize members, our congregation sent members to Belize, Alaska, Guatemala, Mexico, and Rogersville, Tennessee to support global workers, ministry partners, and kingdom work. A total of 48 members participated on mission journeys this year! We commissioned, Atticus, a recent high school graduate in our church, to be on mission for his entire gap year in Guatemala as he ministers to orphans there. In our homes, neighborhoods, community, and the nations, we are sharing the good news of Jesus with the lost and searching and trusting the Holy Spirit with the results.
March 3 was the one-year anniversary of the tornado that devastated East Nashville, destroying countless homes, businesses, and church buildings, including our own. At 12:32 a.m., one year to the minute from when the tornado touched down, The Church at Lockeland Springs held a prayer vigil in our courtyard to remember those we lost and all the lives touched that day. Residents from all over the community came to comfort one another, encourage one another, and pray with one another. Later that evening, a full community worship service was held where nearly 200 East Nashville residents came together to mourn, pray, sing, and celebrate what God did that week and all that He has faithfully done since.
This past fall, 30 men and women made a one-year covenant commitment to the mission, vision, and future of The Church at Lockeland Springs. The newly formed Core Leadership Team will be dedicated to growing together, encouraging one another, holding each other accountable, and training and equipping each other to be the church we’re called to be in East Nashville. Our focus is on raising up new leaders from within the church who will, in turn, disciple the next generation of leaders.
The March 2020 tornado devastated much of our building. Reconstruction and renovations took more than a full year to complete, but in June of 2021, we were finally able to open our brand-new Commons. The Commons exists in the space formerly occupied by the old fellowship hall and has been specifically designed to create a warm and open space for community and connection. In the few short months since completion, the Commons has already hosted countless events, local ministries, weddings, meals, and so much more. We are so grateful for the new space and excited to see how God uses it for His glory!
In the life of our church, we made gospel conversations a priority this past year, and as a result, we trained 160 of our people in gospel conversations! One way we were able to accomplish this feat was through events like our DxD Night, where we focused on being disciples who truly make other disciples. We spent time laughing and learning together as a church family and, in turn, grew in our confidence of having gospel conversations and sharing our faith with those around us. Sometimes, we even had nachos together. God used our time together and multiplied it immensely for His kingdom!
Additionally, we experienced 54 individuals proclaiming their faith in Christ alone, and we even had the privileges of baptizing 44 people! And when it came to our Student Ministry, we had 148 students in average attendance on Wednesday night and 112 attending our Sunday LIFE Groups! Not only that, but The Church at Nolensville also hosted our first “Student Takeover Sunday,” where our students stepped up the plate and owned every area of service—from working tech to the parking lot, from serving on the host team to helping lead worship and even helping to preach the sermon! We have seen the Lord move within our students here, and we can’t wait to see Him continue to engage our young people with the good news of the gospel.
And lastly, we want to celebrate the story of Kyle Kamrath! Kyle was the very first adult to come to faith in Christ at The Church at Nolensville back in 2018. He was baptized that same year and has continued to be mentored and discipled by the men in our church. Last year, Kyle became a deacon, and this year, he baptized his daughter, who recently made a profession of faith! We praise God for how he has moved in Kyle’s heart and in his home, and we look forward to what else He has in store for our church.
In 2021, we equipped over 150 people with gospel conversations training, and each week, we are hearing stories of members sharing the gospel with those around them. Our team is continually finding new ways to creatively embed gospel conversations into the culture of our church. For example, earlier in the fall, our choir spent time at each rehearsal in gospel conversations small groups to pray for the lost and searching, share stories and ideas, and refine one another’s gospel presentations. The result has been an increase in the frequency of gospel conversations and several stories of professions of faith happening across our community as our members live “sent.” As a result of this “sent” lifestyle, our church has had 53 professions of faith, 35 baptisms, 15 new adult DxD groups launched, 43 students from 11 countries attending our ESL classes, 280 people in average attendance at our Grove Hill Church plant in October, and 2,450 in attendance at our first-ever outdoor Easter Sunday celebration!
Our Racial Unity Team has been meeting for almost two years now, learning and praying together. One of the members on the team, Jon Meeks, began to pray about connecting his passion for Spanish with local ministry opportunities. As a result, this past fall, Station Hill launched weekly sermon interpretation in Spanish along with our first Spanish-speaking LIFE Group. The group has grown to six families, and members are now regularly bringing guests who are primarily Spanish-speakers.
Each year, we have a monthly prayer focus on missions. This year, we focused on praying for a
specific global worker and his or her family each month. In culmination, we hosted our first International Mission Fair in November, where ministry partners and members from 10 different countries and cultures were represented. Station Hill has one family serving internationally and another leaving soon, and we are engaging our global workers and church family through prayers and immersion opportunities like this. We are hopeful and prayerful that many more will respond to God’s call to go and serve the nations.
Stephaine Spencer’s story of coming to faith in Christ this past year is one that we will continue to celebrate in the life of our church! In the midst of deep depression and disaster, Christ’s light shone even more brightly into the darkest parts of her life. Though she had not been raised in the church, Stephaine began to learn about the Lord through a teacher she met during her time in jail. It was then that she began to seek out the truth of the gospel. Not long after this, though, her parents died, and she began to turn away from God. Yet it was in the midst of this intense season of darkness that the Lord met her, and she put her faith in Him. Not long after, Stephaine became introduced to The Church at West Franklin and found her home here with us, soon becoming baptized! We praise God for her testimony and what He accomplished in her life in 2021!
This past fall, our trustees approved a $1.25 million dollar renovation for our sanctuary, fellowship hall, and building exterior. After six weeks of two services in the fellowship hall (due to these renovations), we needed to add a third service to open up additional space! But that’s not all. In August of 2021, over 17 inches of rain fell in Middle Tennessee, causing great flood damage in the city of Waverly and its surrounding communities. However, due to the renovations we had begun on our campus this fall, we were able to provide pews to a church in Waverly in the aftermath of the flood. Because of the generosity of our own church family, we were able to extend aid to those in need as part of our Disaster Response work. Thank you, church!
We also celebrate our partnership with The Oak Cottage for Women, an organization here in Franklin to provides a safe residential home to formerly incarcerated women reentering society. We have had a group of ladies from The Oak Cottage consistently attend our Sunday morning worship service and get involved in groups at our church this year. Additionally, we want to mention that over 30% of children who attended VBS this summer were not connected to a West Franklin family. We praise God for each of these opportunities He has provided for us to engage our community!
In the life of The Church at Woodbine, we have 14 family units of global workers, who are either on the mission field or are training and actively making plans to go in the near future. We consider it an incredible privilege to send out some of our best to serve Jesus throughout the world. We are so grateful to be part of the Brentwood Baptist family of churches. It would be impossible for our little congregation to send so many people out into the mission field if it weren’t for our partnership with the greater Brentwood Baptist family. For this, we are so grateful!
Another exciting update at Woodbine has been the start of the first floor renovations in our Educational Building. As our church continues to grow, we also see both biological and spiritual growth in our kids’ ministry! The need for new, renovated, and updated space has been a “must-do” for years. We are very excited that the finish line is in sight to double our kids’ area. These updates will not only create much-needed space for all of our children, but will also give us more flexibility as we continue to share the gospel with families.
In 2021, we started 6 off-campus DxD groups, 5 adult focus study groups, and a new middle school LIFE group. We also had 20 people participate in our Discover membership class. Two of our ministry partners, Begin Anew and Project Connect Nashville, who utilize our building space, served over 70 families each week. We also hired Wes Banks in June as our missions minister, and we plan to go on a mission journey to Mexico in spring of 2022.
Our worship team continues to grow with more musicians, diversity, and talent. We also celebrated four “Spanish Sundays,” where our worship service was conducted in Spanish! We are so thankful to ordain our second Spanish-speaking deacon, Jorge Luna.
In the community we provided 116 traditional food boxes, 69 Latino food boxes, and 300 “fuel bags” to individuals and families we connected with through Whitsitt Elementary School. Our congregation donated generously towards the school’s holiday store, need for school supplies, and their pumpkin patch in the fall. Our church’s Fall Fiesta also had over 150 in attendance! In the summer, Day Camp at Woodbine had over 50 campers and more than 30 volunteers. We give thanks to Jesus for all He has done at The Church at Woodbine!