Spotlight Interview: Brandon Bowers

Prestonwood Network: How did God call and lead you to plant Awaken Church?

Brandon Bowers: I grew up in South Carolina and went to the College of Charleston. There I met my future wife, who actually led me to the Lord. After my conversion, her college minister gave me several opportunities to serve in the church. I graduated a year later and attended New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. For 10 years, I was away from Charleston, and it was then that the Lord put a tremendous burden on my heart for us to move back to Charleston and plant a church there. We wanted to specifically plant a church that would see people far from God awaken to life in Christ. In 2013, Awaken Church was born with this vision for reaching the people of Charleston for Christ.

Prestonwood Network: Can you share with us a story or two about how you see God at work in and through Awaken Church?

Brandon Bowers: We started as a group of nine people in my living room. Now, we have grown to more than 1,500 people in weekly attendance, and we have seen great life-change. We have seen more than 800 people baptized. The Lord has been working in a tremendous way, and all the glory goes completely to Him. As a church, we believe that the Lord is truly just getting started, and we are confident in our strategy to reach our city for the Lord. Our main focus and strategy now is growth through small-group multiplication, which has already been incredible.

Prestonwood Network: Undoubtedly, 2020 has been a year full of challenges. How have you and your staff navigated these challenges? What have you learned?

Brandon Bowers: We have certainly been learning a lot, especially the value of one-on-one relationship. Discipleship through relational connectivity has been key to our continued success throughout this season. Due to our state’s limitations, our main Worship Services were shut down. However, our small-group ministry was able to continue throughout the pandemic. Our small groups had service watch parties and really leaned into each other throughout this challenging time.

Prestonwood Network: What is the biggest lesson that you learned in the first few years of planting and pastoring? And what advice would you give a new pastor or planter?

Brandon Bowers: Here are just a few of the lessons that I have learned:

  1. The biggest lesson that I have learned is to focus on making disciples, and the church will grow. Do not focus on building a church and then hoping for disciples.
  2. If someone needs a title before willing to “buy into” the mission, then he or she is not the person you need on your team.
  3. People who are far from God don’t need pastors with titles; they need Christ-followers who are making disciples.
  4. Jesus never promised to bless a church plant. He did promise to bless the Great Commission.
  5. As you go about making disciples, the Lord will bless His work along the way.

Prestonwood Network: Tell us how you stay locked into the mission of your church. How do you effectively communicate mission and vision to your staff, leaders and church members?

Brandon Bowers: Vision and culture to the staff is my job as the Lead Pastor. We have weekly staff meetings, weekly prayer meetings, and times of worship just for our team. We lift up the prayer requests of our entire church during every staff meeting. All of these lead to a culture of love and teamwork. We have a culture code that our staff built on our wall that reminds us of who we are and who we want to be. Lastly, integrity as a leader is everything. I do not ever call anyone serving under me to anything that I am not personally engaged in myself. Go first in everything that you are asking anyone to do.

Prestonwood Network: How do you make sure that you are leading effectively both at church and also at home?

Brandon Bowers: I believe the healthiest aspect of our church is the healthy relationships between our staff and in our staff families. High accountability is key. My wife is close with the women on staff as well as the wives of the other men on staff. I am intentional with the husbands of the women on our staff and obviously with the guys that serve on our staff. Relationships are a priority for our church. This begins in the home. There have certainly been tough seasons in the past. And for us, we just always want to have honesty in our home. For Ashley and me, the primary focus for us is on keeping our marriage strong. We do not strive for perfection. Instead, we strive for authenticity.

Prestonwood Network: You have done a great job of training and growing young staff and leaders. What are ways that you have found success in recruiting and training leaders?

Brandon Bowers: Just about all of our leaders are grown from the inside. These are people that have been a part of our church and were serving before they had any form of leadership. As they grow in knowledge and commitment, we promote them and give them greater leadership and responsibility. The beauty of that is that they are already in complete alignment with our vision and our mission. We don’t have to explain that or teach them on this. Also, this means that our staff comes in with strong relationships. They know us, and we know them. It makes us a better team.

Prestonwood Network: What are you most excited about in the future of Awaken Church?

Brandon Bowers: As we roll in to our eighth year, I see this current season as an opportunity to prune the church and get back to the focus on our mission. We have become less about the programming and more focused on the Gospel and reaching our city. The Lord is purifying our church in these days. I am excited for the future as we relaunch from our two campuses.

I am especially excited about being a part of planting churches all over the world. We are about to plant an Awaken Church in Guatemala. We are also looking at planting a church in Haiti. We are trying to plant local churches where we have invested in the past to help reach those areas for Jesus. We are very excited about the future of these and more church plants!

Prestonwood Network: How can we be praying for you, your family and church?

Brandon Bowers: We need prayers for continued provision of all kinds. Pray that God would provide financially, that He would provide wisdom as we navigate this season, and more than anything that the Lord would continue to give us a burning passion for our mission to see those who are far from Christ awaken to life in Him.

Prestonwood Network: Thank you so much for sharing, Brandon. We praise God for what He has done and what He is going to do through you, your family and Awaken Church. We are grateful for this partnership in spreading the Gospel and making disciples of Jesus Christ.

Brandon Bowers is the founding and lead pastor of Awaken Church in Charleston, S.C. Connect with Brandon on Twitter: @brandonbowers_.

More information on Awaken Church can be found at awakenchurch.cc. Please share a word of encouragement or prayer with Pastor Brandon at pastor@awakenchurch.cc.

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