Welcome to our summer series, “Interview with a Pastor.” This series will highlight some of the pastors and churches in Project Thrive as we journey together toward the final year of the Thriving Congregations Initiative. We are grateful for the pastors as they lead their churches toward a thriving, hopeful future!
The Rev. Tom Gholson is the pastor of Brook Hollow Baptist Church in the West Meade area of Nashville. Their worship is a blend of traditional and contemporary with guitar and piano. Brook Hollow sits on a beautiful lot nestled between homes and neighborhoods around Brook Hollow Road. The church has a weekday child care center on-site that attracts local families with young children. They actively pursue reflecting the friendly, warm neighborhood church feel for those who visit.
The goal of Project Thrive is to help our churches thrive in their context. In your opinion, you believe your church is thriving and in what ways?
I believe we are on the journey to thriving, maybe not at the moment but definitely in the right direction. I want to acknowledge there are places where we are lacking but also admitting we are striving to fix those issues.
Has your definition of thriving changed through this process? If so, how?
I think there was initially – four years ago – we would have thought thriving was bodies, budget, and building increase. Even though we knew better, those were the easy gauge. Now, we are realizing it’s not about numbers but about spiritual and emotional maturity.
Do you think the nature of your church either has changed or will change in the future?
Yes, it has changed. The honest answer is we have done a good job of deconstructing our church but where we are now, we are not sure yet who we want to be built back up to. I believe the nature has changed from when I started 20 years ago, where the mindset of the typical Brook Hollow member was a similar to the local country club. That has intentionally been deconstructed so now we are looking at what that identity will be as our community and neighborhood has changed.
What has been a valuable lesson you have learned as your church has participated in this process?
There are congregants, members, and friends of the church who have good ideas, too. Our coaches have helped us engage the extended church outside of the core leadership and we found that many others can think and dream outside of the box. Sometimes, we tend to listen to the same voices, and we could learn from others.
What part of the process has been most helpful?
The encouragement and accountability of the coaches has helped us to stay on target and keep going.
What do you want to celebrate?
Four years later, Project Thrive is still a common weekly topic of conversation. It isn’t just another program that was good for a while and then put on the shelf. We continue to be engaged with it.