Seeking God’s Best for Your Church Even in a Hostile Environment with Terry A. Smith

Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. We’ve got Terry A. Smith with us today; he’s the lead pastor at The Life Christian Church (TLCC) which serves the New York City metro area. He recently wrote a devotional called, The Lord Bless You: A 28-Day Journey to Experience God’s Extravagant Blessings, and today we’re unpacking a story Terry tells in chapter 13, titled “Resistance Training”.

  • Resistance Training. // “To actualize any God-inspired calling, we must overcome conflict.” Terry begins chapter 13 of his book sharing about how God placed a dream in his heart to open a new location for the church in some of the last undeveloped land in the urban area where the church served. This dream took 10 years to find fulfillment and Terry said that every bit of that journey was hard. There are practical steps Terry took to lead his church to persevere in accomplishing this dream, and it led to God’s blessings in the end.
  • Develop friendships. // Terry knew in his heart this would be TLCC’s property and he began praying to that end. He surrounded himself with people who would believe with him, but he also started developing relationships and friendships with the power brokers and political leaders in his community. Terry set up meetings with each member of the town council, told his story, and asked what the church could do for the community. Connecting with local leaders helped them recognize the value the church brought to the community.
  • Build connections. // In the bible, even prophets who were in exile needed to be known and trusted by the ones in power in order to speak with them. You may not agree with everything that local government and political leaders support, but you can look for what you do have in common. Find a way to serve people and recognize that you both want your city to thrive.
  • Let them say yes or no. // When talking about big ideas such as purchasing land to build a new location, Terry would speak about it in a way that would give his board, elders, and church leaders the opportunity to offer feedback, critique, and have the power to say no.
  • Make it all clear. // When Terry brought the idea about the property to the board, he shared his heart and cast vision in a way where he wasn’t putting his finger on the scale, but made it clear that he was willingly submitting to them. He didn’t want to move forward without their blessing, and would accept whatever decision they made. Don’t act like you’re giving someone the ability to say no to you if you’re not willing to receive their no.
  • Celebrate the steps. // After casting the vision, the real question is how to keep the momentum going over years of work. Have a strategy in place. TLCC developed a 12-step checklist to work toward their new location and each time they took one of these steps forward, they would celebrate as a church. Tracking these steps and celebrating over the years helped keep people engaged and encouraged. In addition, they opened their 53,000 square foot building in phases to keep people from burning out on this project.
  • Find local leaders. // Outside of local government leaders, pay attention to the business leaders and the other religious leaders in your town. When you’re a new church in town and you’re posturing yourself to serve the community, look for the Rotary Club, Lions Club or Kiwanis in your town. Making those connections is a powerful way to work together to bless your community.

You can click here to read the introduction and chapter one of The Lord Bless You: A 28-Day Journey to Experience God’s Extravagant Blessings by Terry A. Smith, Chosen Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, ©2023 by Terry A. Smith. Used by permission.

Plus download the free sermon series kit for The Lord Bless You to use in your church. Learn more about The Life Christian Church at

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Thank You to This Episode’s Sponsor: Leadership Pathway

If you are trying to find, develop and keep young leaders on your team look no further than Leadership Pathway. They have worked with hundreds of churches, and have interviewed thousands of candidates over the past several years. They are offering a new ebook about five of the core competencies that are at the heart of the leadership development process with every church that they partner with…just go to to pick up this free resource.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.