Deeper Fellowship Church - The Genesis

Our story, like every story, is long, as you can imagine. But here is a somewhat condensed version. In 1998, while riding in the back seat of a car from Cleveland, OH, back to Cincinnati, I had an open vision about a place where people were discipled and trained in life, in worship, and the arts. However, at the time I did not know what it meant. It was a vivid vision, the kind that you remember for the rest of your life. I asked the Lord, “Where is this place to be?” and He clearly said, "Orlando, Florida - and I'm going to use you to build it!" That was quite a large task for a young man who had never lived away from home except for in a college dorm room, forty minutes away.

Even after seeing that life altering vision, I didn't make any plans to leave my “comfort zone” of home right away. Yet, while shoveling snow one cold Cincinnati winter, I came inside and jokingly said, "By this time next year I'm going to live in Florida!" Little did I know that in December of 1999, I would move to Florida. I attended and graduated from Full Sail University, still with a vision in my heart, but unable to clearly articulate what it was at the time. During the next several years, I led worship and had the privilege of serving as keyboardist and music director for internationally renowned worship leader, Ron Kenoly. I then accepted a position as worship pastor at a local church, and that's the season where everything changed.

During that season, this vision that had always seemed foggy to me began to clear up a bit. I also met my wife at that church! One day, the church sponsored some of the leaders to attend a church planters conference to learn how to become a planting church. While Pastor Rick Warren was speaking, the Holy Spirit quietly spoke to me and said "You are here to learn how to plant the church I placed in your heart in 1998!" I promptly ignored that, since a church isn’t what I saw in 1998, was it? I was so uncomfortable with what I heard that I stopped attending the conference and skipped all the remaining sessions. Here is where the story gets really interesting!

One of my best friends I’ve known for 20+ years, who is really like a brother to me, has always had a call on his life to plant a church, and I always wanted to help him do it (not be a lead planter). I told him about this amazing church planters conference that he MUST attend! I was so adamant about him going that I said I'd go back with him. This is where God set me up! I'll never forget this as long as I live, because this moment changed my life. My brother and I were sitting in a session led by Ed Stetzer. The Lord spoke to me again and said, ”You are here to plant.” I once again, ignored that voice. I'm a worship pastor that just recorded a new CD with songs literally being sung around the world, and I'm called to help my brother plant? Then, The Lord spoke to me a second time, but this time He said, "Why are you ignoring me?" I said "I'm not!" (I know, I'm crazy). Then, He spoke to me a third time (all while Ed Stetzer is speaking), and asked again, "Why are you ignoring me?" Once again, I responded "I'm not!" Then in a moment of divine providence, my brother leaned over to me and said, "God just told me to ask you why you're ignoring Him?" Whoa!!! Would you believe me if I told you my response to him was "I'm not!"
However, clearly, I was.

I was scared out of my mind. God was calling me to plant a church. This was the thing I saw in 1998. This happened one month before my wedding, and when I shared what God called me to do, my bride-to-be willingly and immediately embraced the call, and it became our call together. That is a testimony and a story that deserves its own section. On our honeymoon, through prayer and dialogue, God birthed the vision and the name, Deeper Fellowship Church, in our hearts. (We also did fun things and relaxed on our honeymoon too). The one major issue upon returning was, I loved my church and my pastor, and I didn't want to leave. Having read earlier how much it took to get me to embrace this call, it took quite a bit to get me to leave. I received ten prophetic words of confirmations in a five month period before I finally said, “Yes Lord, I'll go."

So the journey began. I stepped into the call of traveling full time and the Lord blessed us tremendously, and still is, literally around the world. At the same time, my wife and I began to dialogue and pray about what starting would look like. With the direction of the Lord, we opened our home to a small core group of people once a month where we would worship, pray, fellowship, and study the word together. A little over a year later, our core team began meeting weekly outside of our home. Now, this established core team, full of faith and expectation, is ready to launch into the unknown. It is a beautiful, God-directed season of establishing Deeper Fellowship Church. Now we invite you to take the journey of faith with us. Together, we will see the Lord do great and mighty things!

 

- Pastor William McDowell