Like many other seminary students, Chad Ferrell and his wife, Christy, had plans as graduation came. God was calling them to reach the nations with the good news about Jesus.
A decade later, they’re doing just that — but nowhere near where they thought. Just two hours from where he grew up in Durham, North Carolina, Ferrell planted King’s Church Charlotte — in the heart of the city’s University City neighborhood.
“We’ve got the nations here,” Ferrell said. “There are 100-plus nations around us with the [University of North Carolina-Charlotte] here.”
Change of plans
The Ferrells planned to go overseas as International Service Corp missionaries with the International Mission Board after graduating from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2011. When the IMB shut down the program, the couple had to recalibrate their plans. They spent a little more than a year in India with Generation Link and then six years at Crosspoint Church in Clemson, South Carolina.
God gave the couple a new vision — to reach the nations by planting a church in an area of North America with a high concentration of internationals. Areas near colleges seemed like a great opportunity, particularly since the couple enjoyed working with college students.
As he looked at potential landing spots, Ferrell and others at Crosspoint Church noticed a trend of students graduating from nearby Clemson and heading to major cities throughout the Southeast, like Charlotte. On a vision trip to the city, Charlotte pastors told Ferrell about the great need for new churches in the University City neighborhood, near the campus of UNC-Charlotte. With 30,000 students (including 1,900 international students), the school is one of the largest in the state.
The couple, along with a core team from Crosspoint, arrived in the city in August 2019 to plant King’s Church Charlotte. The church launched with 14 members the next October.
One of Ferrell’s concerns as he planted was how they would engage college students and grow multi-generationally at the same time. The church began a relationship with an older North Carolina Baptist congregation not long after the church planting team had arrived. In June 2021, the two churches merged.
“We have about 30 of their members, including the shut-ins,” Ferrell said. “We’re a church plant, but we’ve been wedded with an older congregation. At 36 years old, I’m the oldest of our church plant, but since the merger, we have a 92-year-old.”
With the merger, King’s Church also added facilities just a mile from the UNC-Charlotte campus. Those facilities include a gym that the church has used to further engage college students. The church hosts sports outreach nights where they play sports and share the gospel.
The church is also partnering with organizations around the city to help at local food pantries and serve those whose needs aren’t getting met in the community. Because of the church’s calling to engage the nations at King’s Church, the congregation is constantly looking for opportunities to meet the needs of international residents. They often go door-to-door offering to pray for internationals (and others) they meet, design specific events to engage them and offer rides to help them meet basic needs.
Less than two years old, King’s Church Charlotte is already making plans to send out a church planter this fall. Ferrell says the church’s vision is to plant churches throughout North Carolina, North America and the world. The church plant is on the lookout for places where new congregations are needed — and praying for opportunities to plant in those places.
“Moving here to Charlotte was never about just moving to plant a church,” Ferrell said. “We wanted to multiply leaders and churches for King Jesus. Our hope is to be a reproducing church. We want to see more churches planted in our area, all around Charlotte and North Carolina. And we want to send out missionaries to the nations.”
‘Definitely better together’
Partnerships are a key part of this multiplication vision. Crosspoint Church and several other partners have provided funding and mission teams to help King’s Church in these early stages of ministry.
“Partnership is vital,” Ferrell said. “We see that in Scripture. Paul is constantly thanking his partners, telling them he is praying for them. I’m grateful for partnerships in the gospel, too. If I didn’t have other pastors around me, encouraging me, asking me questions, helping me think through issues that are going on in our church, we’d be in trouble.”
Ferrell says the support of North Carolina Baptists through their gifts to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and the Cooperative Program has been critical to his church’s journey. He particularly highlights the training and opportunities for fellowship provided by the state conventions, along with the support of the state convention’s church planting staff.
“I think we’re definitely better together,” Ferrell said. “As we pool our resources together, we’re going to see the gospel go forth all over the world. We’re going to see more churches planted. That’s probably the main reason we’re Southern Baptists. Because of our partnership, we can send out more and more church planters and missionaries.”