It was early January 2007 and I was yet again on the other side of sad failed church experience. Life really didn’t make sense. Looking back, I was as much the problem as anyone. I don’t think I was very believable. In my mind, nothing was attractive about my church experience or me. Like the Tin Man in the Oz, I needed a rediscovery of my heart. Thankfully, the Lord would soon send some new friends who knew how to strategically apply oil in places that had become somewhat rigid and stiff. This would be vital to my rediscovery of life and purpose.
I had received confirmation of my calling as a young man at 22 years old. God placed a shepherding heart in me and I knew one day my mission in life would be revealed. A wonderful pastor ordained me as I served as worship leader and youth pastor, but now I had many questions about what once looked like a sure thing for my life.
How could I ever lead a church when I didn’t really understand who I was and what I was about?
As I served in various roles of ministry, I had never been a part of a sustained successful or effective ministry beyond the 5-year mark. Something was wrong with our idea of loving God and loving people and I had almost given up hope of ever experiencing anything great in my life in terms of church experience. Honestly, church seemed very complicated.
At this point my wife, Becky, and I were simply praying about a great church for our three teenage daughters. We heard of a unique ministry in Macon, Christ Chapel @ Sportstowne, that was being housed in a former sporting complex, and decided we’d make the 50-minute trip to check it out. I don’t think I can adequately describe how I felt when I walked into that atmosphere for the first time. Pastor John Wood was out greeting folks in the seats as they arrived. He introduced himself to me and my family, and then took a bulletin and wrote down his cell number all while saying that I could call him if I ever need him for anything. I would find out later that he doesn’t do that unless specifically prompted by the Spirit. This beautiful under-shepherd was somehow allowed a peek into my soul. God was engineering my life and I had no idea. I had found a house to be healed in. My idea of church would change. I would be trained and rehabilitated in this beautiful place I still call home to this day.
In March I received a phone call from someone who believed in me asking, “What are you going to do with the calling on your life?” I really didn’t know how to respond when this certain someone said, “You have friends who want to meet with you; they are hurting and they need you." Reluctantly, I agreed to meet them. I asked my employer at the time, Dr. Glen Smalley, an Ophthalmologist and Medical Missionary, if I could use the waiting room and he agreed. He even threw in, “Ya’ll can meet as long as you want." Funny how God speaks isn’t it?
This small group of believers began to look to me as their pastor, and as that resonated within me, I knew what I had to do. I needed to talk to that kind pastor who had extended his hand to me. I wanted to ask him how he had been able to lead a sustained effective ministry for 13 years at that point. If I was going to do this I needed a 180 flip in my way of thinking. My first challenge was to pick up the phone and call CCST. I was terrified. I knew this was my “all in” moment, no looking back, no reversing what I was about to do. Beth White, the Associate Pastor, received my call and to this day still remembers my discombobulated comment that truly represented the magnitude of the moment in my life, “Hi, I’m Gregg Soles, I’m kind of a Pastor in Dublin…” I still cringe thinking about that. She could have written me off as a waste of time and shielded her boss from having to deal with a guy who doesn’t even know who or what he is. Instead, she reassured me that John would love to speak with me-- for that I am forever grateful. Pastor John returned my phone call and shortly after, Becky and I found ourselves sitting with him at a restaurant in Macon. We shared our heart…he opened his in return. With no history at all, this incredible man offered us everything. Little did I know that CCST was planting churches. The opportunity to be a campus, along with complete training from his amazing staff and a sharing of their facility and equipment was my offer. No strings attached, no contingencies, love and acceptance like I’d never encountered before. My wife and I walked away from that meeting with a renewed awareness that God truly orders our steps and our lives are completely in His hands at all times. I did not pursue this opportunity, the opportunity pursued me and I couldn’t resist. Whole, secure people surrounded me as they poured a new church philosophy in me. I am who I am today because of the love and nurture I received in that house. I felt that Dublin needed that kind of house as well. The rest is history...We became a mobile campus ministry of CCST in August 2007, going to where God provided after learning how to set up and breakdown complete ministry sets, seemingly, as quick as many stationary churches can flip a switch on and off and lock up. At the DEA waiting room we refocused before moving to The Travel Lodge conference room in September where we worshiped until June of 2008. It was there we checked our baggage, determining not to carry anything to the next place that could crush our vision. From there the Lord provided a little chapel in Kingswood subdivision. The Potters House Ministries chapel was small but it was God’s provision and we were thankful. Our kid’s ministry was booming and as we investigated other means of housing we were miraculously provided a new worship center next door to the chapel where our adults worshiped while we used the chapel primarily for kids ministry until February 2011. James Henderson, who had developed the subdivision and was the visionary for PHM, built the 1800 sq. ft. Worship center. It is the place where I connected vision with provision. At the Potters House we learned we are in Gods hands and He is constantly molding us into the image He has designed for us. Painful but necessary if you want the heart of Jesus in your church. From Potters House we were graciously provided facility at Trinity Christian School as their board voted unanimously to allow us to use their facilities. We also secured a storefront downtown for our growing youth ministry, the 121 building at S. Lawrence. We learned so much at TCS. Our servant hearts were certainly challenged as we completely set-up and broke down every set each Sunday for a little over 4 years. Our joy is that we sowed a lease agreement back into a school that facilitates the word of God daily. Head Master Stan Couey and his wonderful staff and faculty were so gracious to us and we cared for their facility as our own. After 8 years of the mobile model the Lord so graciously provided the former 604 Club on Academy in June 2015. We’ve had so much fun restoring and repurposing this unique facility. Our first service was held September 27th and we are still in awe of Gods faithful provision at each major intersection of our journey.
Our ministry can be described as Inter-Denominational (a celebration of our past journey of faith) and Non-Denominational (a celebration of the new journey together ). We believe this model represents heavens idea of the church and thought we’d make a sincere effort to experience it on earth! While seeking to preserve and keep the non-negotiables of the Christian doctrine, we embrace the Christian heritage that is represented in the varied faith affiliations of our body. We are constantly seeking new and creative ways to engage people and entertain God. Our church is safe in one way, and dangerous in another way. We take great efforts to care for and create a safe environment for our families but in that same environment exists the possibility of someone becoming dangerously bold for God and surrendering their lives to Him forever. Truly His yoke is easy and His burden light when we have the right idea about loving God and loving people.
Gregg Soles, Lead Pastor