The Belonging Co., is a multi-talented body of believers who meet in a warehouse venue immersed in downtown Nashville. It is lead by Australian born, Henry and Alex Seeley, who served many years on the pastoral team at a church in Melbourne, Australia where they were instrumental in pioneering a worship movement that grew into a church of over 10,000 people.
Recently Jim Wagner, publisher of Worship Facilities Media, caught up with this dynamic husband and wife team Henry is a talented worship leader and Alex is a gifted teacher to learn more about The Belonging and its beginnings just two years ago when the couple opened their home for worship to "on the road" musicians.
JIM WAGNER: I had a wonderful night at a Belonging worship service. The people were genuine, the service was powerful and the more I heard what God is doing through and with you both, the more interested I was in learning about your story for our audience. How quickly have you grown?
Henry Seely: We started meeting just over two years ago with seven people. Within a year it grew to about 90 or 100 every week. Now we're close to 1,000 most Tuesday nights.
I assume you have your seat belts on because it's going quick.
It has been an amazing journey. We've met every Tuesday night since we started, but we just had our first Sunday service. And we had another couple hundred people show up to that. It's incredible to see just how much God is leading the way. Not that we aren't organized and haven't done some planning, but it's definitely not a five-year strategy to get to the place we're at. We're literally just week by week getting a sense of where God is leading us. And doing our best to let God lead rather than have a man-made formula for the whole deal.
You're both from Australia. How did you come to live in Nashville?
We were part of a movement in Australia called Planet Shakers. Alex and I were there when that movement started a student youth ministry/conference about seven-
teen years ago that grew quickly. Within five or six years we were getting around 30,000 young people every summer. From that min-istry a group of us leaders started a church in Melbourne eleven years ago. We saw incredible growth in that season and had no intentions of ever leaving until one day we started getting promptings to move to America. So, long story short, we finally decided to apply for our government's green card lottery. Our fleece to God was if we got the green card, we'd go because it's like one in a million chance of getting it. We didn't get our names drawn initially, but they had a redraw of the lottery three months later and we ended up getting in.
[After the lottery] It was a crazy few months watching God do incredible miracles. We left without really having a plan and we just said, go with the power of God. We moved to Nashville, because I have always done production work mixing and worship leading. Also, it's beautiful and a great place to raise a family. In April in 2012, we literally landed here with a blank canvas and asked God to lead us to whatever was next. A few months in we noticed a lot of creative people who loved the Lord but just didn't have community or a home church connection.
So, while we were looking for a church to get plugged into, we opened up our home to touring musicians who were too busy traveling to have an opportunity for church. We decided to give them some sense of build-ing relationships and having worship together. Alex and I swore black and blue that it wasn't a church. But, soon we had a 100 people and realized that God actually had a bigger plan.
When you changed venues how did you end up at Rocketown?
Rocketown is actually venue number four for us. When we left our basement we moved to a small coffee shop that sat around 130 people. You know, we didn't realize it would keep growing so fast. We were there only there two weeks and grew incrementally. We moved to two other venues before Rocketown.
What kind of place is Rocktown during the week when you're not there?
It's a venue owned by a non-profit outreach ministry in downtown Nashville with a skate park attached to it. It's not your typical out-reach ministry. It's about getting in with inner city kids on the street and being able to go out and be involved with the community there.
Having attended your service, I noticed that you have a very upbeat group of volunteers. You can see in their faces how passionate they are about serving. How did you go about cultivating that kind of culture?
What's been amazing about our journey is seeing that God always knows what's coming. The group of people that we had when we were back in our basement have, for the most part, become our core leadership team. Our first year together we were working on heart issues and character stuff, the kind of things that always trip us up. And so, we just pointed people to Jesus and looked to create an environment for them to experience a strong, personal and real encounter with the Spirit of God for themselves, not just one funneled through Alex and I as leaders.
From that group there are sixty amazing people who are our core leadership team. We don't have a staff. We have Alex, myself, an as-sistant and the help of our leadership team.
You have countless artists that are in Nashville. Have you encountered anything unique in your ministry by being around so many musicians?
Absolutely, It's unlike any other city I've experienced before. There are very unique aspects to life in Nashville; the majority of people move to here do so to make a name for them-selves. So there are definitely characteristics of self ambition. Most churches are crying out for musicians. We have in some ways the op-posite problem in that probably 60 to 70 per-cent of our church is actually musicians. I remember one day just asking the Lord, "How do we deal with this?" And God being very clear that The Belonging is a place for people to get empowered to then take that, and go do what they're called to do. Not everyone's calling is going to be fulfilled on the stage of the Belonging. That's okay. We have nationally recognized musicians at our church, but they're out directing traffic because this is home to them.
The Belonging is not an outlet. It's not a stage. So that's been one of the really beautiful things about this journey, just seeing people lay aside their names, their gifts and just say, "whatever we need to build the Kingdom of God with you." WF