After a number of conversations over a period of several months, we decided to explore where God might be leading us. We had more conversations with various people that we trust about what God was doing, and during the week after Christmas, we went to Tennessee to spend the holidays with my family. While we were there, we spent some time in Nashville and drove the area, and in the weeks after our visit, I found myself online looking at all that God was doing in that city.
I became overwhelmed with the church decline in Nashville (churches are declining 5 Xs faster than the rest of the country) combined with the incredible growth (100,000 people/year are moving to Nashville). Nashville has been known as the "Buckle of the Bible Belt," but that idea is long gone. I couldn't help but ask, "Why are people leaving churches?" and "Are there enough new churches there to meet the growing need?" I read that, if the trends continue, Music City will eventually look more like Europe than the Bible Belt, where churches are museums and relics of the past, not places where people come to encounter Jesus. I was wrecked.
Over the course of the coming months, Sarah and I prayed about Nashville, and one afternoon when she came home and I was weeping in our living room after an afternoon of reading about the city, she said, "You're not going to be okay until we're back in Nashville, are you?"
Proverbs 16:9 says, "We make our plans, but God determines our steps." Today, we are realizing a dream. This wasn't the dream that I had for us. In all honesty, I never thought I would live in Nashville again and had no intention to return. But we have traded in our dreams for God's dreams, and His dreams are much sweeter.