With roughly a 1,000 or so people living in Brentwood, the area had almost two dozen well-established churches by the end of the 1960s.
Some were small and some not so small, such as Brentwood United Methodist Church, which had been founded in 1851.
The community didn’t seem to need another church, but that didn’t dissuade a small group of congregants at Woodmont Baptist Church in Nashville.
According to Steve Smith, who is communications minister at what is now Brentwood Baptist Church, many leaders at Woodmont asked, ‘Why would you want to start a church in Brentwood? There will never be enough people to support a church.”
A meeting with the Tennessee Baptist Convention was held in the fall of 1968 to discuss establishing a church somewhere in the 15th District
Afterward, a group of 65 believers headed south and began meeting as a mission church in the chapel of the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home on Franklin Road. By the time the church was constituted on April 13. 1969, it had 135 members. Its missionaries planned a new approach. Go out into community and minister to the youth.
Under the leadership and vision of William “Bill” Wilson, pastor of the church, a plan of action was developed. The group would reach out to families in search of opportunities the missionaries could provide. Wilson pastored the church until 1999, when he turned the reins over to Mike Glenn, the current pastor.
“The parents wanted recreation for their kids,” Smith said.
There was nothing in the area for teens and young adults to do, and no place to gather.
Filling a need
On February 28, 1971, before it had a sanctuary, this group of forward thinkers broke ground along Franklin Road for a gymnasium. While others were confident the church was doomed to fail, the group was motivated by faith.
“Each Saturday after the gym closed, chairs were set up (in the gym) for Sunday service,” Smith said. “After worship service, the chairs were taken down and the gym was ready for the kids.”
From roller skating to basketball to dodgeball, the gym was there. And there was always supervision and someone with whom kids could talk. As members of the community witnessed what was happening, many joined the church.
Construction of a sanctuary began in 1978.
“A story is told about church member Clarence Edmonds, who literally went to church families and had them sign a letter to stand good for the loan for the new sanctuary,” Smith said. “Those members put up their own homes as collateral. They were so committed to growing the church.”
And grow it did.
In 2000, the congregation broke ground on land along Concord Road and moved into a new church building in 2002.
“We had been several different churches during that time,” Smith said, “which means we’ve been adaptable. Relocation positioned us for growth.”
Smith credits leadership for the success. In 50 years, the church has had only two pastors. A board of trustees takes care of the operational part of the church, allowing the pastor “to focus on his strengths.”
“We’ve been blessed with a wonderful synergy that has allowed us to exist and work well,” Smith said.
The philosophy of reaching out to the community and fulfilling needs continues. In 2010, Brentwood Baptist opened The Church at Spring Hill, its first regional church. Since then, the church has developed six other campuses throughout the area and grown to a total membership of more than 12,000.