A Change on the Horizon

I am convinced God is calling me to become a full-time trainer of trainers. This is a journey He started me on in 2003. I never could have imagined an invitation to a fund-raising dinner would be how he would launch such a transition.

My tenure as the Pulpit Minister of the Stones River Church will close at the end of May. When I announced this on Sunday, March 6, several shared that they have seen it coming for a while. One even asked, “What took you so long?” It has been obvious that catalyzing the spread of the Gospel into new territory has become my passion. God has used this time to prepare me for my next phase of ministry. It has become obvious that a change is necessary.

Debra and I will continue to live here in Murfreesboro. Stones River Church will be our home congregation. But I will be travelling extensively to train others to do what God has been preparing me to do. Ten years ago, I could not have imagined this becoming my passion. Papa God planted a desire to go to Sierra Leone in my heart and then used my travels to that war-torn country to light a fire for the nations to come to know His glory.

My passion had always been local. I could not envision myself working globally. But the sweetest thing is how significant all of my ministry experiences become in this new phase. Before this change took root I had to learn the foundational importance of discipleship. This learning has to be experiential—not just abstract or theoretical. God used Sierra Leone to open me to being discipled by David Watson. Then he called me to start passing on what I was learning to others—men in jail, young adults and anyone who would listen.

While I have thought about this transition since early in 2006, I doubted my training. I have taken one missions course in all my academic work  and spent less than three months outside the United States. But God has given me some incredible experiences during the last eight years. (My lack of traditional missions training may have actually made it easier for me to think in non-traditional ways.) My focus on theology has certainly been a blessing. But most of all, God has blessed me with some great mentors.

Most of my thirty-one years of pastoral experience has been solo. Often I lamented feeling like I was attempting to “reinvent the wheel” since I did not have older preachers from whom to learn. But my training in Disciple Making Movements has come through relationships with two men–David Watson and Jerry Trousdale. It is exciting to think about what I have learned from these brothers and the opportunities that will come to work with them in the future. God is good!

Debra and I covet your prayers. We ask you to intercede for us and for the Stones River family. The last thing we want is for this transition to be damaging to this congregation. I want to see it grow and flourish. Pray for the shepherds. Pray that God will show us his plans for the future. This season should prove to be exciting and scary. We can be confident that as God leads us, there will be many blessings to come as we are faithful.

Pray that I will be successful in recruiting partners who will assist us financially. I have always been fearful of fund raising, but I reached the point where not stepping out would result in being disobedient.

Father, I praise you for giving me this passion. I claim your promise to do more than I can think or imagine. Bless me on this journey. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


  1. John,

    How exciting this new season in your life.
    Walking with God is an adventure and the most
    fulfilling opportunity we have.

    You have delighted yourself in Him and He has given you the desire of your heart.

    You can do ALL things through Him who strengthens you.

    I Corinthians 2:9
    Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has entered in the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.

    Best wishes and His blessings,

    Wayne Belt


  2. We will hold you and your family in prayer. This is a great, scary adventure! We did the same thing four years ago and we have never looked back!

    Hope to see you in June!


    David Broodryk
    South Africa


    1. David, thanks. I will be in San Jose so I look forward to talking with you more about your process. I especially appreciate your encouragement because you have traveled this way! Blessings, John.


  3. JOHN!!!!

    I am so excited for you! This is an awesome thing. I believe this is an absolutely amazing thing. I am so inspired.

    You are without a doubt an amazing and truly anointed teacher. I can’t wait to hear more about the journeys Daddy is going send you on.

    Our Daddy will take care of the funds, he’s pretty good at that. You’re in my family’s prayers.

    You will forever have a mark on that congregation. SRC has some pretty awesome shepherds. They are strong and wise and that congregation will be fine. I think you’re example of obedience may be stronger than any sermon you’ve preached.

    Is it possible that you finally preached yourself outta the job like I told you, you would?

    Love you Brother,


    1. David, your prediction has come true! I have thought of you numerous times through this process of evaluation. I had lunch with Dean and Kenneth on Thursday and we ended up talking about that class. You guys have been walking with me through the whole evaluation and Papa has used you all to bring this transformation in my life. It is exciting to anticipate what is coming! Thanks, brother!


  4. John, I am excited for you. Nothing is more exciting than stepping out in faith. I pray that you will see every need be met.
    MAny Blessings,


  5. John,
    I haven’t known you for very long. But the association with and encouragement you have been to Stanford and Juliane, I can see that this is a wonderful new avenue for you to take.
    Again, I thank you for all that you have done for them.
    There are many lives you will touch because of this decision. God bless you and Debbie.
    Layna McCorkle


    1. Thank you, Layna. Your loved ones have played a significant role in my awareness that now is the time to step out. Their confidence in me and desire to spend time with me was an affirmation that my work is valuable to people on the field. Blessings, John.


  6. john, this is really great news. i’m happy God is leading you, and that he’s spoken with clarity. and your obedience is a testimony of his work in you.

    i remember when you were training our team in our initial cpm learning, i wondered about you doing that with even more of your time. of course, it was nice to be able to walk next door for those training sessions, instead of flying to china or west africa… we are very glad to have had you as our teacher.

    God’s blessings on your newest work, and on stones river as he leads them into a new thing.


    1. Thanks, Brett. Helping your team has been a great learning experience for me. I pray Papa God accomplishes much through you there in Tanzania! Blessings, John.


  7. John I am thrilled for you. Your love for the congregation at Stones River is known by all and you leave them strong and by creating a vacuum new leadership will surface and it will be good. I look forward to seeing you in June.


  8. John, I am thrilled to see God at work through you. He instilled in you the talents you need and He has guided every step of your journey. I share in your joy as you listen and step forward in faith.


  9. Curious to know how to get in touch with Jerry Trousdale…supposing he is the same Jerry Trousdale that used to preach at the Arcadia Church of Christ in Southern California??


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