Harpeth Heights Potential Merger With Brentwood Baptist

Frequently Asked Questions


1) How did this merger idea come about?

On February 19th, 2017, the Harpeth Heights Transition Team hosted a Town Hall meeting where they shared with the church body that there were two ways to proceed with transitioning the church: the first, the traditional route of seeking a pastor, and the second, seeking help from an outside source. After discussion and prayer, those in attendance agreed to have the Transition Team investigate and gather more information about Brentwood Baptist’s Middle Tennessee Initiative as an outside source to assist Harpeth Heights in becoming a healthy church. On August 6th, 2017, the Transition Team announced to the church that they had gathered information, learned the vision of Brentwood Baptist Church, and reached a united decision to recommend that the church pursue a merge with Brentwood Baptist church. On November 5th, 2017 Harpeth Heights voted with 84.7% approval to move forward with pursing a merge. On January 28th, 2018 a Joint Transition Team was elected to lead this process.

2) Why are we considering joining together with Brentwood Baptist Church?

Over the last three years, we at Harpeth Heights have transitioned and grown into a healthier congregation but still struggle with the leadership and resources to fully realize our potential in growing God’s Kingdom. As we have prayerfully walked through this process, we have come to believe that God is calling us to merge with Brentwood Baptist Church and to join with them in their Middle Tennessee Initiative. We believe that by becoming a campus of Brentwood Baptist Church, we at Harpeth Heights can more effectively reach the lost in our community, better equip church members to live on mission, and continue to become all that God’s word directs us as a church to be.

3) What are the benefits of this proposed union?

We will become a regional campus of the Brentwood Baptist family. With the other seven campuses (including the Brentwood location), we will make up one church with one mission, sharing resources, staff, and governance so each congregation can effectively carry out the ministry God has put before us.

  • An Exciting New Mission/Vision:
    • Our mission: Engaging the whole person with the whole gospel of Jesus Christ anywhere, anytime, with anybody.
    • 5 Year Vision: In response to God’s leading, we will pursue 10,000 “disciples making disciples” relationships as a result of initiating 500,000 gospel conversations in which we will share the whole gospel of Jesus Christ with our neighbors and nations; and we will create a church multiplication movement that results in 100 healthy congregations in Middle Tennessee and beyond.
    • Participate in the Acts 1:8 Ministry Plan: disciples making disciples
    • Actively participate in the Middle Tennessee Initiative, which seeks to share the gospel and multiply the impact of churches in Middle Tennessee
    • Access to training, resources, and collaboration across campuses to more effectively reach all generations, ethnically and linguistically diverse populations, and unchurched people/families in our Bellevue community
    • Ability to financially and prayerfully support active church planting and a larger number of missionaries around the world
  • Programming:
    • Access to more programming options.
    • Opportunity to participate in more mission trips for both youth and adults
    • Opportunity to offer a wider range of ministries on campus, at home, and reaching our neighbors and the nations
  • Operations:
    • Support for facilities maintenance and repairs
    • Central support for administrative duties in order to focus primarily on ministry
4) What is the timeline for this proposed union?

The goal of the Joint Transition Team is to make this process smooth and successful as we move to a decision expeditiously. The JTT will identify areas of transition and individuals affected. Collaborative meetings between ministry leaders from HHBC and BBC are ongoing for the purpose of developing and communicating transition details and what to expect. The JTT will schedule opportunities for the congregation to ask questions and receive feedback prior to making a recommendation toward a vote. We anticipate the possibility of a vote occurring in the late spring or summer.

5) What will our worship services be like?

Dennis Worley, Lead Worship Minister at BBC, will continue working closely with Kyle Hankins and his team over the next several months. Any changes to worship services with regards to planning, content, or personnel will happen incrementally over time with specific purpose and communication as determined by the Harpeth Heights Campus and Teaching Pastor.

6) What will be our staff positions and what will happen with our current staff?

The intention is for all the current staff at HHBC to remain and become employees of BBC. Roles may change, but in so doing, effort will be made to ensure the new role is a match for them and best for the strategy of the church. The BBC Executive Pastor is meeting with current staff and is exchanging information with the HHBC Personnel Committee related to personnel policies.

Upon merging, current staff will be supplemented temporarily until a full staff is implemented. A Campus and Teaching Pastor will be sought out and hired. The timeline and priority of positions is still to be determined, but key leaders, part time (interns or residents), or fulltime staff will be provided to help in the areas of Adult Discipleship, Next Gen, Missions, and Connections (membership process, guest services, etc.) Ministry. Staff selections are made to proactively support strategy and growth needs. As much as possible, the Campus and Teaching Pastor will be involved with the Staff Resources Team (SRT)—the Personnel Committee of BBC—in selecting these key contributors.

Central Support at the Brentwood campus will provide support roles such as: business office, facilities staff, and media staff.

7) What will be the process for calling a Campus and Teaching Pastor?

When the decision to merge is finalized, multiple steps will begin to select the next Campus and Teaching Pastor for The Church at Harpeth Heights. Leadership at BBC will be the primary drivers of the search with the final selection and recommendation coming from the church’s Staff Resource Team (personnel team) and final vote to hire by the church’s Trustees.  Beyond the two teams mentioned, the process engages the senior staff and other staff, including current HHBC staff. There is no full congregational vote to call a campus pastor but Congregational feedback is sought by the SRT and is used to inform hiring decisions. According to BBC bylaws, only the Senior Pastor position requires a full congregational vote.

BBC has a detailed and robust search, evaluation, and selection process for filling ministry positions. This is a thorough process that results in calling Campus and Teaching Pastors who work well together across campuses and who are gifted and called for the ministry, context, and environment where they will minister. While the process is unique for each situation and candidate, it generally involves:

  • Prayerfully seeking the person God has prepared for this role throughout the process
  • Developing a detailed job description unique to the Church at Harpeth Heights
  • Developing a Position Profile describing the environment, expectations, and necessary talents and skills required
  • Beginning a candidate search and reviewing applications
  • Conducting phone interviews and reviewing sermons provided
  • Conducting assessments concerning personality, spiritual gifts, abilities, and strength finders
  • Candidates complete questionnaire(s) to assess experience in specific situations anticipated in the church to be served.
  • Conducting a visit to the candidate’s current ministry location to observe and have informal interaction
  • Conducting interviews involving a team comprised of Senior Staff, the SRT, and Trustee representatives
  • Conducting visit(s) to the Brentwood campus and Harpeth Heights, participating in meetings with staff, ministry leaders, and members, along with preaching before the congregation
  • Other interactions as God leads in the process
8) How will membership be transferred?

The members of HHBC will be grandfathered in as members of BBC having all rights and privileges as BBC members. While membership is granted at merging, HHBC members, though not required, will be strongly encouraged, for their benefit, to participate in the membership process to understand their role as a minister/disciple. The following year (beginning January), members will be eligible to be nominated and selected to serve on the church’s three standing teams: Staff Resource Team, Finance Ministry Team, and Trustees. Ordained deacons will have uninterrupted service as deacons post-merger.

9) What is the governance role of a member at Brentwood Baptist?

BBC and regional campus members help make up the governance structure of the church. Outside of the following, they’ve delegated all other authority to the Trustees, a role for which regional campus members qualify. As a body of believers, members are responsible for:

  • Calling and dismissing the senior pastor.
  • Nominating deacons.
  • Electing trustees.
  • Approving the Church’s mission, objective, values, statement of faith, and ordinances.
  • Adopting and amending the Church’s Charter and Bylaws.
  • Approving the Church’s annual budget.
  • Purchasing, selling, or encumbering all real property, land, and buildings.
  • Relocating the principal office of the Church.
  • Borrowing money other than that which is consistent with the approved annual Church budget.
  • Establishing a new church campus or merging with an existing church.
10) What role of leadership will deacons have?

Deacons are servants of the Church. The task of the deacons is to serve with the campus pastors and church staff in: performing pastoral ministries; proclaiming the gospel to believers and unbelievers; caring for church members and other persons in the community; leading the Church by example to engage in a fellowship of worship, witness, education, ministry, and lifestyle application; and leading the Church by example in performing its task. Deacons do not have term limits and affirm annually their commitment to serve.

Each campus has the following deacon officers: chairman, vice chairman, and secretary and the combined deaconate from all campuses have officers of chairman, vice chairman, and secretary.

11) How are deacons nominated and approved?

New deacons are nominated annually from each church congregation. Men must have been an active member for one year to be eligible for nomination. The qualifications for deacons are New Testament standards outlined in Acts 6:1-8 and 1 Timothy 3. Deacons are expected to be models of a Christian lifestyle and commitment worthy of emulation by other members of the church. All nominees are examined and if they meet the qualifications, including a regular pattern of giving, are presented to the church for affirmation and ordination.

Current deacons of HHBC will continue to serve as deacons post-merger, becoming a part of the Deacon ministry of BBC.

12) How will the budget and finances be managed?

Brentwood Baptist has one unified church budget. Each regional campus has their own operating and ministry budget within the overall church budget. In a multi-month process, the Campus and Teaching pastor at each campus works on a budget based on strategy and growth needs. The budgets are submitted to the Executive Pastor who then works with the Campus and Teaching Pastor and the lay-led Finance Ministry Team (FMT). Ultimately, the FMT and Trustees approve a church budget and then recommend that budget to the Church (all campuses) for consideration and vote. The church is provided an overview brochure of the budget and makes a more detailed budget available for members. The bylaws of BBC require a church-wide vote each year on the Annual Operating Budget.

Ongoing financial oversight happens at a campus level by the Campus and Teaching Pastor (his designees) and then is overseen by Executive Pastors, Church Administrator, and then in monthly meetings of the FMT.

13) Will our church have a new name, and what will it be?

Following the naming conventions for the regional campuses of BBC, the new name of our church will be The Church at Harpeth Heights, A Regional Campus of Brentwood Baptist Church.

14) What will happen to our facilities/assets?

Ownership of all assets along with associated liabilities will be transferred to Brentwood Baptist Church. Brentwood Baptist Church will assume responsibility for all maintenance and repairs.

15) Who will decide if this merger happens?

The JTT, after facilitating meetings to consider the changes involved in joining together, will decide to recommend or not recommend the merger. The membership of HHBC and the membership of BBC must vote to approve the merger.

The recommendation will be based on whether we are better together or separate. We must determine whether our joining together enhances our efforts to reach the community surrounding Harpeth Heights, Middle Tennessee, and the world and better equips our members for the service to which they are called.

16) If the merger is approved, what will happen?

Worship, discipleship, ministry, fellowship, missions, pastoral care, giving – all of these will continue as core functions of the church. Visually things may not change immediately; however, many changes will take place over time. Governance will take time to transfer functions previously the responsibility of HHBC.  We will find ourselves having to change things we have “always done this way” such as handling money, recording contributions, budgets, and paying bills. Other things like signage and additional staffing will be a process occurring over several weeks or months post-merger. Computer and phone systems may change. These changes require us to commit to one another as joining churches, to work together for the good of God’s family and His Kingdom purposes. Some key changes are:

  • HHBC members will become one with members of the Brentwood family.
  • The church will become known as The Church at Harpeth Heights, A Regional Campus of Brentwood Baptist Church.
  • As members of BBC, HHBC will join in the ACTS 1:8 Ministry Plan and 5-year Vision to impact Middle Tennessee.
  • The Campus and Teaching Pastor selection process will begin, and current staff will begin to be supplemented.
  • The Church at Harpeth Heightswill have access to ministry resources and expertise allowing for collaboration that will enhance ministry effectiveness both locally and globally.
  • BBC will provide central support functions such as finance, facility maintenance, communications, marketing, social media, etc.
  • Ministry opportunities in missions, discipleship, and service at other campuses of BBCwill be available.
  • Legal entity (501c3) Harpeth Heights will cease to exist and all HHBC governance committees are dissolved, and responsibilities folded into the BBC governance structure.

All assets and liabilities are transferred to BBC.

17) If the merger is not approved, what will happen?

The members of Harpeth Heights would continue to move forward, seeking God’s direction and will, and becoming the church God directs us to be. At that time, we would begin the process of forming a Pastor Search Team to search for and call a senior pastor.

18) How can I be part of this process?

Pray for unity of heart and spirit as we seek God’s direction in this decision. We are family, let’s move together. Please do not base your decision on assumptions; this is too important a decision to do otherwise. Continue to educate yourself on what is involved in this decision by participating in the following:

  • Pray
  • Continue to serve, give, and be an active church member
  • Attend Merger Launch meetings on Sunday afternoons from 3:30-5:00
  • Speak with a JTT member about the process
  • Attend Town Hall events
  • Pick up printed materials available on the JTT tables
  • Submit questions and comments to jtt@harpethheights.org
  • Visit brentwoodbaptist.com for additional information about Brentwood Baptist
19) Will our preschool be able to retain and continue earning the Three Star accreditation from the State of Tennessee?

Yes. Our weekday preschool program is a state accredited three star program and has held this annual distinction since 2001. The community and families we serve expect and appreciate this level of programming. Brentwood will honor and encourage our weekday program to continue efforts to work toward and achieve this 3 star rating each year.

20) Will our Mission Residence become a part of Brentwood Baptist Church?

Yes. Our Mission Residence located in River Plantation Condominiums will become the property of Brentwood Baptist Church when merger documents are completed and signed. It will continue to be used as a mission residence.

21) Will Harpeth Heights have our own body of Deacons and how will they be elected?

Yes, HHBC will have its own body of deacons. New deacons are nominated annually from each church congregation. Men must have been an active member for one year to be eligible for nomination. The qualifications for deacons are New Testament standards outlined in Acts 6: 1-8 and Timothy 3. Deacons are expected to be models of a Christian lifestyle and commitment worthy of emulation by other members of the church. All nominees are examined and if they meet the qualifications, including a regular pattern of giving, are presented to the church for affirmation and ordination.

Current deacons of HHBC will continue to serve as deacons post-merger, becoming a part of the Deacon ministry of BBC.

(See also FAQ #10 and FAQ #ll)

22) What will happen to our existing HHBC designated accounts?

All of the HHBC designated accounts will be transferred to BBC. The HHBC designated accounts will be held for the purpose or use the contributions were intended and will be expensed with the original intent being honored. The Brentwood Baptist Finance Ministry Team, like the current Harpeth Heights Finance Team, has a process to determine if/how a designated fund can be set up that is compliant with IRS regulations.

23) Can you provide more detail on the Brentwood Baptist Missions Giving?

In 2017, Brentwood Baptist provided well over $2,000,000 in funding Southern Baptist affiliated missions causes, well over 10% of total church wide giving. These missions efforts include the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home, the International Mission Board (Lottie Moon), the North American Mission Board (Annie Armstrong), the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board (Golden State), IMB scripture translation projects, Southern Baptist missionaries serving both with the IMB and other sending agencies, multiple Southern Baptist church plants in Middle Tennessee, SBC church plants in the Midwest and Canada, as well as global disaster relief efforts. Brentwood Baptist is a cooperating Southern Baptist Church. Cooperative Program and the Nashville Baptist Association are both line items in our mission’s budget. Of this $2,000,000 missions giving mentioned above, $200,000 was given to Cooperative Program (1% of the church wide budget). Brentwood ranked second in the Nashville Baptist Association in total SBC giving in 2016-2017. Brentwood’s annual Missions Offering is contextualized to each campus, with each campus having its own giving goals and focus partners.

The following additional BBC documents are available in the front foyer as well as in front of the church offices.

If you have further questions, you may email the Joint Transition Team at jtt@harpethheights.org.