Back Meet our new TRAIN church planting residents

September 6th, 2013

As the school year starts and students begin a new batch of classes, we also welcome in three new "students" onto our staff.

Meet Brian Drinkwine, Todd Cole, and Steve Cho—our second round of TRAIN church planting residents who join our staff to learn and grow before we set them free next year to start their own new works.

Brian Drinkwine

Plant Location: Nashville
Spouse: Sarah

He's a Nashville native, raised down the road in Antioch. Brian graduated from Overton High School and Belmont University. But for the past four years, he's served as the Student Ministries Pastor at New Life Community Church in Peoria, Arizona.

"If you'd asked me 10 years ago if I'd be dreaming of launching a church in the Nashville area today, I probably would've laughed and moved on without a second thought. Now, however, things are different."

Last summer, Brian struggled with his place in ministry, wanting something more. God was moving his heart, but he didn't know what toward, so he started searching. God opened his eyes to the state of the local church in his hometown.

"Though few people in the area realize it, the trends suggest Nashville is heading in a direction that looks more like Europe than the Bible Belt. The thought of a churchless Nashville grieves my heart. I couldn't just stand by and watch. I had to respond."

After encouragement from several leaders who surrounded him, he found the Launch Network, was introduced him to TRAIN at Brentwood Baptist, and the rest, he says, is history. He applied, was accepted, and moved to Music City—the city full of artists, leaders, and influencers at every level of society.

According to Brian, close to a million people in Nashville were at one time involved in the local church, but today have no involvement. In fact, they consider the church to be non-essential in their lives.

His dream is to see God rescue the thousands who are leaving the church here. His vision is to change the way they think about the church and begin a self-replicating movement that multiples churches across the city.

"I want the gospel to dominate this city and breathe new life into the Christian subculture. We can't lose this city. Without the church as a vibrant force in the life of Nashville, it won't just be Middle Tennessee that's affected. Its eternal implications are limitless."

Todd Cole

Plant Location: North Carolina
Spouse: Dawn
Children: Bailey

Todd and his wife, Dawn, both grew up in military families and met in high school. He attended William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Mississippi (BA Religious Studies; BS Psychology), then went on to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv).

For the past 15 years, he was a student pastor. For the past 7 of that 15, he was a student pastor near Raleigh, North Carolina. And for the past 2 of that 7, God began to stir his heart to plant a church.

"My wife and I felt a sense of divine discontent, which marked the beginning of a new and different direction," Todd said. "I didn't know much about starting a new church, so we prayed even harder, studied God's Word, and talked to trusted friends and mentors."

The result of that was an increased burden and passion to connect with people who weren't being reached. And they knew that to do that well, they needed the best training they could get.

Todd and Dawn went to Exponential, a large church planting conference in Orlando. While there, they stopped by the TRAIN booth, met Bob Carlton (Brentwood Baptist Church Multiplication Minister), and applied that day. And now, here they are.

"With our military background, we felt we could go just about anywhere, but we didn't really have a burden for a particular area," Todd said. "As we continued to pray about location, God opened our eyes to the need in our own community of Holly Springs."

In the time since they moved there, Holly Springs—a suburb about 20 minutes from Raleigh, the fastest-growing city in the U.S.—has more than doubled in size. Because of all the growth, there's a great need for churches to reach and disciple those who are coming to the area.

"The vast majority of the young families who have moved is: don't really know anyone; aren't and haven't been involved in a local church; and don't have a relationship with Christ," he said.

The vision God's given them is "to do all they can to demonstrate God's love in meaningful ways in order to connect people to Jesus." They also want to help these families connect to each other since they're new and don't have established community.

"We're so grateful to have the opportunity to come to Brentwood Baptist and be a part of this program—and to have the love, support, and prayers of the church family," Todd said. "We know this will be an amazing year for God to work in us to prepare for the work He wants to do through us. We can't wait to see what He's going to do."

Steve Cho

Plant Location: South Korea
Spouse: Joy
Children: Isaiah and Isaac

His father's family was from North Korea, but they escaped during the Korean War. His mother's family was from South Korea. In 1975, they married and immigrated to the United States, settling down in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. And two years later, Steve was born in Providence, Rhode Island.

In 1999, Steve enlisted in the U.S. Army as an interrogator. He served in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 as a U.S. Army Sargent. Then in 2005, he was medically discharged for permanent damage to his lungs.

One year later, he met his wife, Joy. That same year, Steve and Joy promised Jesus they'd follow Him wherever He wanted them to go.

"That commitment led to an amazing journey of serving the youth at the Korean Presbyterian Church of Miami," Steve said. "During those years, God made it loud and clear that He wanted our family to one day go to South Korea."

Even though God told them that, Steve didn't envision it happening until much later in life—at least 10-15 more years. He wanted to remain a youth pastor as long as he could. But then they went to Exponential this year.

"My wife and I expected to learn a lot more about discipleship," he said. "We had no idea that this conference was for church planting. When we arrived, we were just blown away by the passion of all these church planting organizations."

Still, they didn't think planting a church was for them.

"Our youth ministry was thriving, both our sons just got full scholarships to an amazing Christian private school, and I got a significant raise at my bi-vocational job," Steve said.

According to Steve, the couple fully intended to coast through the conference, enjoying the conversations at each booth. He said, "In actuality, I was more excited about filling out information cards in hopes of winning some free gizmo—either an iPad mini or iPad."

As they sat in the final sermon given at the commissioning service, the message was called "Who Will Go?" That's when Steve got a text from the TRAIN booth saying he had seven minutes to pick up the iPad he'd won. So he answered the call. He went.

"I really didn't want to leave the final service, but I couldn't miss the chance to finally win something for once in my life. God knew what I would choose," Steve said.

He took some congratulatory pictures with last year's residents. Then Bob Carlton, Brentwood Baptist's Church Multiplication Minister asked what brought him to the conference.

"He wanted to hear my vision and call," Steve said. "I told him I wasn't really there for church planting, but I did make a promise to God about one day going to South Korea."

Steve told the story about the night he asked God to show His heart for South Korea. He said, "I shared how the Spirit responded by taking over my whole being that welled up loud groans of excruciating pain. It felt like my own sons had died a horrific death. I'll never forget the tears welling up in Pastor Bob's eyes."

Steve left the TRAIN booth and walked back into the end of the final service just in time to catch the call to the audience: "Who will go?"

"My response, without delay, was, 'I will go,'" he said. "My wife and I went hand-in-hand. A pastor came and laid hands on us, asking us where we were planting a church. That very moment, all three of us burned with tears and the Holy Spirit convicted us of our call once again."

Steve says he got to Brentwood Baptist's TRAIN Program by God's grace. He felt it the moment he first turned onto Concord Road.

"It began with prayers of the saints here at Brentwood Baptist long before I set foot in Nashville. It began with daily prayers from my grandmother when she was here with us. … God is good and His dreams are big here. He's faithful to finish the work He's started. Thank you for partnering with us and inviting us to this church family."