A Guide From the Start

Welcome! I’m glad you’ve found your way to our story and our journey. For me, it’s only the beginning of a story that God began writing before even time began. My prayer is that through our journey, you would be encouraged in the midst of your story: That God would renew your passion for reaching the lost for Kingdom cause, that He would stir up a desire in your heart to do whatever it takes to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, and most of all that He would be glorified because of everything we do.

When I was a freshman in college in Tuscaloosa, AL, I had the opportunity to serve with a group of people who were planting a church. I joined them as they prayed for the plant, as they canvased the city promoting the new church, and I was there the very first Sunday that church ever existed. It was an incredible thing to see something come into existence that wasn’t there before. It was a group of people, who were devoted to God’s calling on their life, that the Lord used to birth a new church that, to this day (7 years later), is still reaching people with the gospel of Jesus Christ!

I’m a thinker. I tend to overanalyze things on a grand scale. Ideas will pop in my head sometimes only to be squandered by my ability to overthink the process of making it happen. It blew my mind to think that one day someone felt a calling to uproot and move their family to an unfamiliar city, build relationships with complete strangers, and start a church that didn’t currently exist. Of course, I didn’t fully understand the Great Commission at the time either:

“Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

After my freshman year of college, I moved from Tuscaloosa back to Birmingham, AL where I would continue on a journey that I didn’t yet realize God had me on – to one day answer a call that I had no idea He’d placed on my life. I struggled to find a ministry in a church where I felt like I belonged. The college ministry at my home church was in a time of transition because the college pastor had left to go plant a church in north Alabama. It was only about 35 minutes north of my hometown, so a friend and I decided that we would make the drive each week to be a part of that church. Once again, I saw the incredible ability of God to use a group of people who were seeking His calling on their life to reach the lost with the unmatched, undeserved, and life-changing message of Jesus Christ. It was during that time, I felt in my spirit God giving me a passion and a desire to do just that with my life. I just had no idea what that would look like for me or how the Lord would work that out but I knew that one day He would allow me to be a part of church planting in some form or fashion.

As time would go on, I found myself teaching a Sunday school class at my home church in Gardendale, AL under the leadership of my Student Pastor, Jamin Grubbs. I eventually took an internship there, which led to an opportunity to serve on staff as an associate in the student ministry. After a couple of years serving there, God opened the door for me to take a position as Student Pastor in Kingsland, GA under the leadership of Pastor John Jenkins. Serving in Kingsland played a huge role in confirming my call and passion to be a part of planting churches, and it also helped shape the person that I am today. I recognized at that time that God was growing, teaching, and molding me in preparation for the things He would soon call me to do.

In early 2015, God called Pastor John Jenkins away from Kingsland to pastor Northport Baptist Church (NBC) in Northport, AL. God was doing some things in John’s heart that would soon begin to impact my life. In late 2015, John called me one afternoon and began to share his heart and vision for NBC. He told me that God had called him to lead this church to plant 5 churches in 10 years. NBC would hire someone to be the college pastor/church planter for 2 years. After 2 years of training and building a team, that person would leave NBC, move to an unfamiliar city, build relationships with complete strangers, and start a church that doesn’t currently exist. All with the goal of reaching people with the saving power that’s found only in Jesus Christ. After sharing these things with me, John said, “I’m not sure if you’ve ever even thought about or considered church planting but, God laid you on my heart and I’d like for you to start praying about being a part of what God has called us to do.”

For lack of better words, my mind was blown. I immediately began my normal routine of overthinking the process that John had told me about. Am I SURE I heard God call me to be a part of church planting? Am I even old enough for this? How will we build a team? How will we select a city? Where will we meet? Where will I live? What are my parents going to think? How will I make enough money to survive (I, like most average Americans, do enjoy three+ meals a day)?

As I spent the next several nights unable to sleep much due to my non-stop analytical brain, the Lord took me to the story of Joshua & Caleb’s faith in the Old Testament. Moses was the leader of the nation of Israel and had sent twelve spies to check out the land of Canaan because the Israelites were to take that land. Ten of the spies came back reporting that there were giants there and that there was no way Israel could take the land. This proved that they still lacked faith in the same God that miraculously delivered them from Egypt. However, Joshua and Caleb (the other two spies) didn’t doubt that God would fight the battle for them. After the death of Moses, it was Joshua who lead the Israelites in their battles against those who lived in the Promised Land. When the walls of Jericho fell, it was because of Joshua’s faith in God. Joshua courageously led the Israelites as a man of faith, a man who trusted that God would make a way when nothing seemed possible. The Lord reminded me that He didn’t call me to trust Him only when things made sense or added up. He didn’t call me to be a disciple of His when I had all of my questions answered or when I had no doubt. He called me to “Go and make disciples” without stipulations that account for my comfort and understanding. He called me…and He called you…to GO.

So, here I am. I’ve answered the call that God placed in my heart long before I ever recognized it. I’m currently the college pastor/church planter at NBC. I’m working, learning, and growing in preparation for a day in 2018 when I’ll move to another city with a team that God has put together all for the goal of reaching a lost and dying world with the only One who has the power to save us from our sin. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still have questions and concerns – because I do. However, God is teaching me during this time that regardless of all of those unknowns, He’s constant. He doesn’t change. He doesn’t have a desire to leave me hanging out to dry. He doesn’t have some big plan to destroy me. He chose me and He called me. Why? I won’t be able to answer that question until one day in Heaven when I can ask it myself. But I do know that He did…and there’s no greater calling in all of life. I am honored and proud to call myself a follower of Jesus Christ no matter what road that may lead me down during my time here on this earth. I simply want my life to count and not be wasted.

Our goal in this blog is to share with you stories of those who have been called by God to go as a part of this church plant and to share with you our journey as we walk with Him down this unfamiliar path. I hope that you’ll join us in prayer as we seek the heart and will of God in our endeavors. May God bless you beyond comprehension for doing so!

 In Christ,

Chris Parker

FaithNorthport Baptist