Lane Change for the Berrys

lane change

I’ve been a deliquent blogger for a long time, y’all. I apologize for that. It’s definitely not been my heart to stay away from writing. In fact, my passion for writing has been continually revved up, but so has my schedule, and blogging has just kind of fallen by the wayside, unfortunately. I can’t guarantee that I’m gonna jump back in wholeheartedly, but here I am…today. Writing again.

I thought it would be a good opportunity to connect with my blog family and let you know about something exciting happening in our family’s life. Many of you know that Brandon has been in full-time ministry at Redemption for a the last ten years. He came on staff as the assistant director of outreach, then got a promotion to be the executive youth pastor, and finally was tapped by Pastor Ron to create the reproducible model for the Small Town Initiative vision to plant 100 multisite campuses in the next 20 years. Pastor told him that he knew about Brandon’s dream to plant a church one day of his own, but felt like the Lord had laid us on his heart that we would be the ones to help him build this first. After praying about it, we believed it was the next step for us. Honored, we accepted his offer and spent a year getting training on multisite and church planting, building a launch team, and preparing to move.

We launched in a movie theater on a cold January morning in 2012 with 320 people and settled in our seats, growing our roots deep in our new city, and specifically with our new congregation. Brandon connected with plenty of local pastors and other ministry and community partners, promoting unity throughout the area. Truthfully, once we got past that first year and got our heads above water, campus pastoring was a pretty great gig. Without the pressure to prepare a message and preach every week, Brandon was able to focus ample amounts of time into building relationships with our people, developing leaders, and working on the model for the campuses to come. His flexible schedule worked well with our family dynamics, and he was free to create life-giving weekly routines for the most part. The church saw a lot of growth, both numerically and especially in depth of relationships with Christ and each other. Life was good.

So when we were walking away from the staff Christmas party last year, I was confused to have a very strong impression in my spirit that it would be our last Christmas party on staff at Redemption. I couldn’t pass it off on the collard greens I had eaten, so I mentioned it to Brandon hesitantly. To my surprise, he said, “Nicole, I felt the same thing.” We couldn’t explain it, and we didn’t understand it, but we began praying fervently that the Lord would clarify our next steps.While the details remained foggy, we each increasingly felt as if God was about to bring about a major transition in our life and ministry. God is so good to prepare our hearts ahead of time for life-altering seasons, and we felt His presence ever closer in our prayer times individually and as a couple.

In March, we got a phone call from Brandon’s immediate bosses. During the conversation, I had to wonder if they were in our house, reading my journal, because almost word for word, they were repeating my prayers from earlier that morning. In fact, the phone call could not have been more confirming that our season at Redemption was coming to an end. At the end of the call, we looked at each other, and with tears in our eyes, nodded in agreement that this was God moving in our lives. Over the next few weeks, details of our transition became clearer on both sides.

Leadership at Redemption asked another couple on staff, Darin & Sarah Bunch, to take over our position, and they accepted. Pastor Darin has served in various youth ministries for over 20 years, and most recently has served as the Life Groups coordinator for all of Redemption’s campuses. We got a timeline together, and began walking out the plan step by step to make sure our congregation and our family were all taken care of. Over the next three months Brandon will be apprenticing Darin in preparation to handing over the baton on August 7, which will be our last Sunday serving as the shepherds of Redemption Charlotte. Throughout the process, Redemption leadership has been on our side, launching us into this next season God has for us. There are no hard feelings on either side, and we are all seeking to have this be a positive transition for everyone.

What Happens After The Transition?

Well that’s all great, Nicole, but what are y’all going to do? Money doesn’t grow on trees, ya know!

This is a question that seems to be coming into focus more and more as we obey the Lord. This experience as a campus pastor has led Brandon to realize that he actually does not want to be a senior pastor in the traditional sense. We’ve recognized that although he is an awesome preacher and teacher, his gifts drive him more toward the strategic planning that goes into creating organizational growth and healthy cultures.

After we transition out, he plans to come alongside one of our ministry partners, Proverbs 226, and help them reach a million children of prison inmates, reconciling them to their incarcerated parents, mentoring and developing them, and ultimately paying 100% of their college tuition so that they can be educated instead of incarcerated. Did you know that 82% of the kids who have a parent in prison will go to prison themselves one day? That statistic alone is staggering. 

Looking forward from there, he sees himself coming alongside churches, non-profit, for-profit, school, and government leaders to help them achieve the dreams God has placed on their hearts. He will be doing some speaking and preaching around the country, he is working on finishing his masters degree in Christian Leadership at Gordon Conwell Seminary here in Charlotte, and then he will pursue his PhD (in what, we’re not 100% sure yet).   We are going to take it one step at a time, and believe that God has us on all accounts.

Our family will be out and about in the city, looking for the new community God would have us worship with on Sundays. We are both excited and a little wide-eyed about this endeavor. We know that Charlotte boasts a TON of amazing, life-giving churches, and we are pumped to see how God is moving in different ways throughout the city. However, we’ve never had to ‘church shop’ before in our lives, and we are going to be walking our kids through this transition as well, so we want to be wise in our timing and get our kids plugged in as soon as we can.

Friends, this is an exciting time for the Berrys as we change lanes according to the way we feel God is leading us. We will try to keep up with our blogs (brandonberry.net and coleyberry.com) in such a way to share the ins and outs of the upcoming season and would love it if you’d like to follow our journey. We pray that God would use it to encourage you to step out of the boat when He calls you and trust that He will hold you up.

Will you please pray with and for us?

*Pray for the transition out of Redemption Charlotte, that our congregation would feel a sense of peace and security. Pray for the new campus pastors, Darin and Sarah Bunch as they move from Greenville to Charlotte. Pray that they get settled into their new community easily and that together, we are able to show our congregation a positive transition that is, sadly, pretty rare these days.

*Pray for Brandon as he switches roles and begins this immediate new assignment with Proverbs 226, that he would walk in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding in how to support and build this amazing ministry up to its potential.

*Pray for us to find a new, life-giving church, where we can both rest for a season, and then serve as the Lord would lead us. Pray that we would fight the temptation to jump in immediately, and that we would be able to “lie down in the green pastures beside the still waters” as the Lord restores us so that we may avoid burnout and be better used in the Kingdom.

*Pray for our kids who very much like being PKs so far, and aren’t sure they are going to like just going to church and not being ‘the pastors’ daughters’. Pray that we would be able to lead them toward finding their identity in being God’s kid even more than the position of honor they’ve held during this last season.