7675 Vaughn Rd Canton, GA 30115

Our Beginnings

 

Hi, my name is Banks Brazell, and I’m the senior minister of AllPoints Community Church. (Don’t let that “Senior Minister” stuff throw you, it’s my legal title under AllPoints Church’s by-laws. Just call me “Banks.”) If you are considering coming to AllPoints Church, it might be a good thing to know a little bit about how we came to be in the first place.

First of all, AllPoints Church was God’s idea. I was on record as saying I never wanted to be a church planter! (So much for my input into His plan!)
In retrospect, it all started unfolding the first Monday of April, 2003, about 4:30 in the morning. At the time, I was the senior minister at First United Methodist in Monroe, Georgia. That morning, the Holy Spirit woke me up and put one overriding thought into my head: “It’s time to go.” I initially took that as a sign to change churches, as Methodist ministers do from time to time, but I was not on the “move list” for that year, and the first meeting of the Bishop and his cabinet to consider moves was only a week away. The process of putting together the move list had begun back in January. I had suspected back then that I probably should be on the move list that year, but was talked out of pursuing it by both my District Superintendent and Monroe First.
So I argued with the Spirit the rest of the day, telling Him why it was not such a good idea to move at this time. He clearly did not know what He was talking about, and I proceeded to tell Him so!

The next morning a few minutes after 4 am, the Spirit woke me up again. Again there was one overwhelming thought in my head: “It’s time to go.” Now, I did not hear an audible voice, it was more like what Julian of Norwich, a 14th century Christian mystic, described when she said some of her visions from the Lord came “as words forming in my understanding, but without voice…” This was a full-blow thought in my mind, but I also knew the Source of the thought.
I got out of bed, went to my study, and once more proceeded to pointedly tell the Spirit why that was such a bad idea. “The cabinet meets next week and I am not on the move list… if I stick my head up now they’ll take it off… it’s career suicide! One more year at Monroe can’t hurt anything! I’m not going anywhere!”
Wednesday morning, 4:08 am, I was suddenly awakened under the weight of the Spirit, and was actually physically being pushed downward into the mattress. Immediately came one very imperative thought, almost a shout in its intensity: “IT IS TIME TO GO!”
That morning, I got up and did not argue. There were only two words left to say in reply—“Yes, Sir.”

As events unfolded over the next several weeks, I wound up on leave of absence from the ministry. Now, ordained elders in full connection in the UMC are guaranteed an appointment. I had already indicated to the cabinet I would take a leave of absence rather than simply taking any old appointment to pass the time. So, one thing led to another, and July 1st, I found myself on leave. It was a strange and unsettling thing to be out of the pulpit for the first time since 1991. That was just the beginning of a wilderness journey that God was using to break down every preconception I had about my call and to force a depth of soul searching I’d only rarely experienced before.

Having been in the commercial and hospital construction industry once upon a time, I tried to reenter the commercial construction industry, but to no avail. (I have a degree in Building Construction from Auburn University, 1977). Seems there was a downturn in the market at the moment around the Southeast, hummm…
I had also been a professional skydiving instructor from 1986 to 1993 as the owner-operator of FreeFall Ranch in Warm Springs, Georgia. But I was nowhere near being current in my ratings or my skills, having only made 10 jumps in as many years. Nor would instructor fees keep our family of six plus our little 100 pound German Shepherd fed, much less financially solvent.

Next to preaching, my passion is missions. So I formed Kingdom Charge International, a 501(c) 3 mission agency, hoping to get it approved by the Methodist Church as an “appointment beyond the local church.” But that approval was denied by the board of ordained ministry in mid-September of 2003. Just as I received that news, I heard a gentle thought that was not my own: “It is time to go.” In that instant the Spirit also gave me the clear understanding that I was to start a new church. Oh, joy…

Starting a new church had never been on my agenda. From the time I’d gone onto leave of absence, several people including my in-laws began telling me I needed to start a church. But I never wanted to do that. I had a thousand objections and questions. To whom do you answer? Who keeps you honest? From what source or doctrine does your theology come, and why? Who says what’s in and what’s out? Where’s the accountability to the rest of the Body of Christ, the Church Universal? And where in the world do you land to even start?

Besides, I had no income. I was broke. I had no resources.

But the only door the Spirit was holding open was the door I had to walk through, and it was the “Go start a new church” door. So I walked through it, saying, “Lord, if this is what you want, then You will have to make the way, and keep opening up doors.”

Almost immediately things began to happen. I was pointed toward Harvest Network International as a covering organization. Their statement of faith and their foundational values lined up perfectly with mine. There was an instant rapport with Jack Montgomery, the Elder with HNI who oversees the Southeastern US region. By the end of October, HNI had approved my application to transfer my ordination from the UMC, and I withdrew in good standing from the UMC to join HNI.
An attorney friend of mine called me to see how things were going, and immediately took me on as a pro bono client to do the corporate and non-profit filings. Within two weeks, his associate was pushing me for a name for this new church we were trying to form. I was driving everyone around me crazy trying to pick a name. I’d get one I liked, then go to Google or Yahoo, and find out a thousand other churches had that name already because it would get 500 or 1000 or 10,000 hits. Then, one night while my wife, Kendra, and I were riding along in the van discussing all of this, I happened to reach over and turn on the radio during a lull in the conversation. The last licks of an old ZZ Top song, “Waiting on the Bus” played, and then it segued into “Jesus Just Left Chicago.” The lyrics go something like this:

Jesus just left Chicago, and He’s bound for New Orleans.
Jesus done left Chicago, and He’s bound for New Orleans.
He’s workin’ from one end to the other,
And all points in between…

When I heard that lyric, I received an immediate Holy Spirit shiver, and said to Kendra, “Hey! How about AllPoints Community Church?” She said, “That’s perfect, that’s your missions and evangelism and everything, plus it’s not geographically tied down. It works for everything. How did you come up with that?”

“Right here, from ZZ Top, aren’t you listening?”

“No, I don’t like those guys, I was trying NOT to listen to it!”

When we arrived home, I immediately Googled the name “All Points Community Church,” and got zero hits in return, and the same with Yahoo and Dogpile. No one was using that name anywhere on the Net. So I immediately registered the name with the Secretary of State and registered the domain names, and in the morning made my frustrated attorney very happy that we finally had a name to go on all his paperwork.

Word began to get out about this new church start. Two families called me and both said literally the same thing: “We’re in. We want to be part of whatever you do.” A week or so later, another lady called to say the same thing. God had started forming the church before we even met for the first time.
Soon after, within a few days of each other, two different guys named “Steve” offered me separate places to begin holding worship services, and both of them were next to QT gas stations. One place was an office building’s conference room. The other was a funeral home chapel. We began worship the first weekend of Lent in 2004; Saturday night we met in Woodstock in the conference room, and Sunday morning, February 29th of all dates, we worshipped in H. M. Patterson’s Canton Hill Chapel in East Cobb. Both places were packed.

Since that time, God has sorted us out to a solid group of loving folk, not in some sappy sentimental way, but in a tough agape love kind of way. We soon consolidated worship into the Patterson location, and met there until the end of August, 2005. The last Sunday of August we worshipped for the first time at our current location in Hickory Flat. God moved a good friend, Dr. Carl Russell, to offer us a building behind his orthodontics practice for our use. We spent the summer of 2005 renovating that space.

In a lot of ways, our story is one of God opening doors—frequently including what seem to be unlikely doors, and sometimes inconsequential doors. Both have served to teach us to simply be obedient and step through the door, even when it is not clear just what is on the other side. We have learned that God is faithful, and that our immediate ministry often lies across the threshold of the next open door. We are not a church at rest, nor do we want to be. Neither are we a church that is busy for busyness’s sake. We have one goal—to be faithful and obedient to our vision by being a church where true love flows, and a church were healing and wholeness are the norm, not the exception. Our history is set, our present is happening, and in our future, all things are possible through the love of the Father.

We have come to realize that we are a church positioned “out on the edge,” or as a friend of ours, Al Houghton with Word at Work Ministries (http://www.wordatwork.org) says, “God has this church out on the tip of the spear.” We have found we are often moved to engage in prayer what seems to break in the headlines or in the church some weeks or even months later. If you are restless in a church setting that is more settled and ordered, then perhaps the Spirit is trying to move you closer to the edge of the Kingdom. Maybe a place like AllPoints needs to be considered…

Maybe, just maybe, this is the place you, too, will call home. Come and see!