The story of TCC is one of God’s faithfulness. Today I’d like to reminisce a bit, reviewing our history, and seeing God’s fingerprints all over it. Reviewing God’s faithfulness in the past is meant to encourage us to trust that he will be faithful to us in the future (Psalm 100:5). In 1989 my family moved to Dallas, Texas. Having served on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ for seven years at Duke University, I believed God was leading me into pastoral ministry. My first day at Dallas Theological Seminary I met a man named Buddy Walters. Buddy had played football at Mississippi College. We quickly became close friends. Buddy and I shared a love for God’s Word and a passion that others might come to know the God who had so powerfully changed us. Buddy and I also attended the same fast-growing, “contemporary model” church. Our experience there convinced us we’d never be content ministering in a “traditional model” church (where the music didn’t sound anything like what we heard on the radio).
In the late 1980’s Americans were dropping out of church by the thousands; 3,500 churches a year were closing their doors. It was my generation, the baby boomers, who were staying home. So Buddy and I decided to plant a church targeting unchurched baby boomers with children. By the early 1990’s many Boomers began coming back to church. Once children came along, they couldn’t figure out how to impart a spiritual/moral base apart from the church. But if they found church to be just as boring and irrelevant as it had been when they last attended, they dropped right back out. Buddy and I were convinced that if the church was to recapture these returning baby boomers it had to radically redesign itself. It had to be just as committed to being culturally relevant as it was to being biblically faithful.
Buddy did some demographic research on southeastern cities, and the Research Triangle Park had a high population of unchurched Boomers. Also, back then there was only one contemporary model church of any size in the whole area. One of our seminary classmates knew a couple in Fuquay-Varina who might be interested in what we were doing, so we gave them a call. We asked if they would like to meet with us, and they said: “We would love to, and we’ll invite some other couples who might be interested in hearing what you are doing.” Listen, we were thrilled! We hadn’t even landed in N.C. and our church had already doubled in size! We held our first worship service in their home on October 25, 1992. Over the following weeks a few more families joined us. On December 6th, 1992 we began meeting at West Lake Elementary School with an average attendance of about 20. We had not yet “gone public”; our plan was do so on Easter Sunday.
We had almost no money at all, so how do you inform the broader community that you are even there? We prayed, and we got the idea to call the News and Observer and let them know that we were starting a new church in the area targeting baby boomers. They thought that was pretty cool, so they sent a writer and a photographer to interview us (see the March 8, 1993 N&O). A couple of days later, Time Magazine called. They were preparing an issue on Baby Boomers returning to church and they wanted to interview us too! They interviewed us, and followed us around for a day as we went door to door in neighborhoods inviting people to our Easter service. The April 5th issue of Time magazine came out and we were in there! Clearly God was working. Our little church family was just amazed at the goodness and power of God. A couple of days later “Good Morning America” called. No Joke! They wanted to do a live broadcast from our church on that first Easter Sunday morning. We turned that one down—we didn’t want a media circus on Easter—but the next day a
local news station, WTVD called. They assured me that they would be unobtrusive, and they did a very positive report. We never could have afforded this kind of publicity. But when God is your press agent, you don’t need money! You just need faith. We had lots of that.
Easter Sunday, April 11, 1993, 142 people attended! (About half were my relatives—but over the next several weeks we leveled out to about 70 people). TCC has grown steadily ever since. Later we relocated to Oak Grove Elementary. As our church continued to grow, we felt the limitations inherent in using rented facilities, so we began to search for property of our own. We built this facility, moving in on Palm Sunday 2003. We had an incredible celebration! (I’m so glad Buddy got to see this building; as some of you know, on September 11, 2003, just five months after we moved into this building, God called Buddy home.)
When we moved into this facility we had an average attendance of 250. A year later we were averaging about 450. Today somewhere between 900-1000 people gather here for worship. God continues to bring people our way, and He is sovereignly working to transform ordinary people like us, into extraordinary followers of Jesus Christ. I believe that we have a bright future; did you know that Wake County is now the most populous county in the state? The new 540 loop is going to be half a mile from here; our church will be readily accessible to even more people. The area within a 10 mile radius of us is projected to add more than 40,000 people by 2017. That is about the size of Holly Springs and Fuquay Varina combined! As these new neighbors move into our neighborhoods we need to take the initiative to befriend them and seek to share God’s love with them.
God is not finished with TCC. There is a lot more he wants to do through us. But before we allow our minds to move forward into the future, let’s reflect on what we can learn from God’s faithfulness in the past. First, God delights in bringing big results out of humble beginnings (Genesis 15:5–6). Secondly, God grows his church (Matthew 16:18). Jesus is the builder of his church; we can be confident that he is able to complete what he begins. In fact, he guarantees it. There is more for us to do. We have an exciting future before us, and next week I am going to begin unpacking it. Please be here next week and every week through April 6th if you possibly can.