In January of 2015, Kahlie and I moved from Satsuma, Alabama, to Wake Forest, North Carolina. We had been married for about 13 months, and were desiring to go to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary so that I could get an Master of Divinity. The purpose of the M.Div. was so that I could become better equipped to serve Christ by serving the local church for the rest of my life. And when we moved, we only took what we could pack into our two vehicles. It was an exciting time for us and we were thrilled about how the Lord might use us in North Carolina!
Shortly after this, the Lord provided Kahlie with a job in Occupational Therapy (so she was paying the bills) and me with a job on the SEBTS grounds crew (and I was paying for Chick Fil A)! But, though we had jobs, we were still looking for a healthy church. We went to few a different churches, but we weren’t dead set on any of them.
Now, in the midst of searching for a healthy church that Kahlie and I could join and begin serving, a guy informed me of First Baptist Church of Durham in Durham, North Carolina. Upon attending, Kahlie and I were hooked. We loved everything about the church. The preaching ministry was phenomenal. The multigenerational aspect was appealing. The small group ministry was intentional. And the pastors took a genuine interest in the congregation. Soon after visiting, we decided to join in May of 2015.
After we joined, Kahlie and I got involved in the youth ministry. She was teaching middle school girls and I was teaching high school guys. We also got involved in the children’s ministry (churches are always looking for more volunteers here)! And lastly, we just sought to be healthy church members. Kahlie and I knew that, if we wanted to serve the local church for the rest of our lives, we didn’t need to wait until after seminary to do it. We needed to do it all throughout seminary as well. So that is what we sought to do. And as we did this, I continued pursuing my M.Div, and Kahlie continued helping and aiding me in anyway she could (praise God for a godly wife)!
We did this for about fourteen months, and then something completely unexpected happened. In July of 2016, I received a phone call from Andy Davis (The Senior Pastor at FBC). And when I answered the phone call, Andy asked me if I would be interested in interviewing for the Director of College Ministry position. This was unexpected because I was only twenty-four, I didn’t have a ton of ministry experience, I wasn’t done with my M.Div., and I hadn’t even put in a resume. Needless to say, I was shocked.
Andy Davis had become one of my role models in the faith and he was asking me to serve along side of him in ministry. FBC Durham was the healthiest church I had ever been a part of and it was asking me to come on staff. So I told Andy that he had the wrong number and that he must have meant to call someone else! Just kidding! I told him I would talk to Kahlie about it and then get back to him. When I talked to Kahlie about it she was more shocked than I was (to which I was mildly offended by)!!!!! But we both decided that I should go through the interview process to better understand as to whether this was something God would have me do. Here is the journal I wrote after Andy called me:
Monday afternoon I received a phone call from Andy Davis. He told me that their desire has always been to hire a College Director from within FBC Durham. They have had numerous resumes turned in, and a couple of interviews with men outside of FBC. None of these had worked out. He then told me that they have had their eye on me for a while now. He said that many people have mentioned my name and have said that I may be a good fit for the position. He also told me that the christian growth he has seen in me over the past year has been encouraging. I would never have put a resume in for this position because I know how unqualified I am for such a service. But they have asked me to come in today to speak with them about this position to see if I could possibly fill it. I have no idea what to expect, but I am very thankful to God for such an opportunity. May the Lord’s will be done.
Shortly after the interview process, they offered me the position. Kahlie and I talked about it and we went on to accept the position. It was exciting and overwhelming. Thinking through this, I wrote:
This presents an incredible opportunity for serving the Lord Jesus Christ and also the local church. These are honestly my life long ambitions. However, I did not think that I would be thrust into ministry this quickly. This was not even a thought a couple weeks ago. Now, I officially start August 16th.
As you can tell, this was a big deal in my life. Now, some of you may be reading this and saying, “Good golly, Philip! It was just an opportunity to do college ministry.” But for me, it was so much more. It was the opportunity to labor full time in gospel ministry. It was an opportunity to teach, disciple, and evangelize within the context of the healthiest church I had ever been a part of. It was an opportunity to be under Andy Davis and to watch his way of life, to ask him questions, and to drink in his wisdom. It was my first paid ministry position ever, and I could not believe that God was giving it to me!
Well, after all the interviewing stuff, I started the College Director position on August 16, 2016. Kahlie immediately started serving with me. We moved to Durham, I started taking online classes at SEBTS, and we started learning what it was like to do ministry in a greater capacity than we had ever done ministry. I was leading guys Bible studies, discipling students, evangelizing, leading retreats, and heading up mission trips. Kahlie was discipling ladies, leading Bible studies, helping me lead retreats, and going on mission trips with me. Though some of this was overwhelming, we both loved it! And we have now been serving this way for over 3 years. Kahlie and I can honestly say that it has been one of the greatest joys of our lives.
Now, after doing this for three years, I have received another unexpected phone call. In mid June, I received a phone call from Corey Townsley (a good friend of mine…..he is actually the guy that invited Kahlie and I to attend FBC Durham when we first moved to North Carolina). Corey is now serving as the senior pastor of FBC Longville in Longville, Louisiana. He called me to see if I would be interested in coming down to Louisiana to serve alongside of him as an associate pastor of youth. He told me that my primary responsibility would shepherding middle schoolers and high schoolers, but that he also wanted me to help shepherd the church body as a whole
The more Kahlie and I looked at this opportunity, sought counsel from the pastors that we are under now, and spent time in prayer, the more convinced we became that this was a position that we ought to pursue. Now, after five months, three interviews, and two trips to Louisiana, on November 3, 2019, FBC Longville unanimously voted to have me come be the Associate Pastor of Youth. Upon hearing the vote, Kahlie and I joyfully accepted this opportunity, and are preparing to head down there in December.
This is bittersweet for us. It pains us to leave FBC Durham, all the college students in the ministry, the many friends that we have made, and the city of Durham. But we are excited about serving Christ Jesus by serving the local church in Longville, Louisiana.
Here are ways that you can pray for Kahlie and I as we transition to Longville, LA.
- Pray that we would seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness even in the midst of a busy transition.
- Pray that we would have good, fruitful good-byes here in Durham!
- Pray that we would find housing in Longville that we can leverage for ministry purposes.
- Pray that we would make it down there safely.
- And pray that the Lord would begin preparing us for the good works that he will have us do at FBC Longville.