When Jeremiah Morris, lead pastor of Seven Mile Road Church in Houston, heard about CTC’s two-year Partnership program, he thought it would be a great opportunity for his pre-launch church plant. Seven Mile Road would give a predetermined amount of funding to an international church plant over a fixed time and would receive customized training from Tim Keller and the CTC team.
As Seven Mile Road looked over the list of potential planters, they felt they’d found their match when they saw Femi Osunnuyi getting ready to plant City Church, in Lagos, Nigeria.
Most U.S. churches investing in church plants through this program have been around for a while. But Seven Mile Road had not yet launched. Jeremiah and his team wanted their church to have a church-planting DNA right out of the starting block. He says, “When we heard we could receive training from CTC and connect with someone like Femi, someone with similar DNA, we felt we could be so many more yards down the field even as we just started.”
When Femi heard Seven Mile Road was still in pre-launch phase, he thought a mistake must have been made. Femi says, “I thought, ‘There’s no way a church that has not yet started will want to support us.’” But that was the case. Jeremiah smiles and says, “We paid Femi before we paid me.”
When Femi and Jeremiah met, there was an instant connection. They’re the same age, they both have young sons, and their churches were in similar pre-launch phases. But Femi says, “More than all of that, I felt like Jeremiah loved us right from the beginning. I thought he would probably tire out. But no. It’s been incredible. I told my wife, ‘I think this guy is legit.’”
Soon after meeting, Jeremiah remembers they began planning long term. “We started talking about 10 years from now—about how we’re going to help each other. I realized I’m going to love Jesus more and be charged to holiness because of my friendship with Femi.”
Femi adds, “Church planting can be a lonely business. This friendship is such a gift. I can be open and honest with Jeremiah. And our churches feel a deep connection. They pray for each other. We are walking this journey together. And I want to learn from Jeremiah—his leadership, his experience. We talk a lot about loving our cities. Jeremiah has thought deeply about how to love his city.”
Jeremiah found the CTC training to be a great help. “Yes, we had passion, but it needed to be grounded and informed. We were given tools to think more critically about our specific context. Before coming together for our church plant, many of us had been serving the city of Houston for about a decade. We felt we knew our territory. But John Thomas [CTC Director, Training] pointed out that the city is a moving target. We’re now asking, ‘What are we taking for granted, and what is changing under our feet?’”
Femi has been reviewing with his staff some of the CTC training he received in 2015. He explains, “We too have been rethinking certain assumptions we’ve had. CTC does not tell you what to think but how to think. It’s not a one box fits all.” Jeremiah adds, “Other trainings are heavily programmatic and prescriptive. CTC encourages us to think critically, and that is refreshing and helpful.”
Seven Mile Road’s generosity has inspired City Church Lagos to invest in other church plants. And Partnership is designed for just that. When the church plant becomes financially self-supporting, they pass these funds on to another church plant. Femi adds, “We always wanted to be a church involved with church planting. I’m very excited about the way this is designed.”
Jeremiah sums it up by saying, “The whole experience through Partnership has exceeded expectations in every direction.”