A Conversation with the leaders of Mosaic Life Fellowship
Founders and Lead Pastor (Shepherds)
Brandon Powell and Ron Smiley
Mosaic Life Fellowship of Middle (Nashville) Tennessee.
With the Shepherds Brandon and Ron
Mosaic Life Fellowship started up in Greenbrier, TN on a crisp October night of 2013 through a handful of people gathering for Bible studies in the home of Ron Smiley with co-teacher Brandon Powell which grew into a weekly church gathering. They worshipped through music and song, shared the Lords communion and studied Gods word. Seeing the excitement shown in their little group they gave the gathering the name “Porch Light”. (There are two reasons for the name Porch Light 1. They left the porch light on for all to come and 2. They stated a desire to be the light of Jesus for the community to see.) Many in the group saw the Porch Light as their church and attended the group exclusively as their church home. As the church began to grow organically, they quickly out grew the space in the Smiley’s living room. Moved toward an established church store front (in the Madison/Goodlettsville TN area) on Sunday evenings when the regular church was not in attendance. It was at this point they made an announcement they would be studying the scripture from a Hebraic point of view. This sparked an excitement and stretched the church to the next level of growth spiritually and numerically. They changed the name to Mosaic Life Fellowship established themselves as a Hebraic Roots congregation and after several months of meeting decided to start meeting on Saturday.
Note: Interview questions and comments are written in bold type, responses are in regular font.
1) So I’ll just go ahead and ask a few questions. (Brandon, Ron) can I get feedback from both of you, whoever wants to talk first, since I don’t know too much about your backgrounds. I was just wondering, when did you know that God had called you to ministry?
(Brandon) I guess I will start. My calling to be a teaching pastor/shepherd was, for a long time, more evident to other people than it was to myself. From about age 15 on, I was actively going to church, and after attending a retreat for youth, began serving and worshiping Him on a much deeper level. I was a part of the worship team at the church I was attending and began teaching youth in return trips to this retreat. That period of time, I know, was crucial in God preparing me to lead. Through the rest of my teenage years, He kept placing me in situations where I was teaching and able to mentor others. In my early 20s, I began leading a Bible study and among friends, really settled into my call, which was teaching. All the while, I was adamant about not being a pastor. The idea of it scared me for a long time, and for much of my youth, I ran from it; that is, until, I got married. One night my wife and I were heading to bed and I just felt distraught. At this point, the Bible study I was leading was somewhat dissolved because many of us went off to college. Moreover, I was having trouble at my job, and knew that wasn't the career for me. After praying together, and telling her how I felt, she looked at me and simply said, "You know you're supposed to be a pastor, right?" From there, a phone call to my longtime friend and co-pastor Ron Smiley established my future roll as a pastor and co-founder of Mosaic Life Fellowship.
(Ron) Well, I guess from a teenager I understood that I was called to ministry. I never had what some would call an “ah-ha” moment or anything like that. I just knew from the great satisfaction I received from serving the Lord, I wanted to serve him more. I Watched people as they grew in their spiritual walk and saw lives healed through the power of God’s love, this excited me. I knew I had to be a part of that kind of love. The concept of becoming a pastor did not come till later. I grew up at a large congregation, (2000+ members), so my spiritual heroes were men that had positions in the church, but where more behind the scene. I saw these men pray, care for and love people and make a real difference in the lives of others. I learned from these men that I could make a difference just by caring. Care a little and much good would be done. Care a lot and great things will be accomplished; add God to the mix and stand back. I see myself more as a teacher and mentor rather than what the mainstream church has produced as a Pastor. None of us are icons and it is the whole congregation’s job to reach out to each other, pray and care for one another. Through the search for a real authentic honest approach to God, Mosaic Life Fellowship was born and we are continuing to evolve into the church God desires.
2) So I am interested in hearing “What was your churches’ denomination before you headed toward a Hebraic point of view and how does a congregation go from a ‘main stream’ thinking church to a Hebraic Roots congregation?”
(Brandon) That's difficult question to answer, I think. In our initial talks about what we were, when we started meeting together, there wasn't really a consensus on a title.
(Ron) No, in fact, I think we were trying to stay away from denominational pulls.
(Brandon) The best we could do in identifying ourselves was saying we wanted to be genuine. In regards to changing our thinking, Yahweh was in control of that. Yeshua calls us to follow Him, not a denomination's doctrine. But despite the fact that we were learning Torah and becoming a Hebraic Root congregation, our goal never changed. We wanted to be real.
(Ron), The only thing I could add to that is in order to study scripture in its purest form we had to change our way of thinking from a Western Hellenistic Greek mind set to an Eastern Hebraic way of thinking. We also continue in the knowledge that our mind set must be that of Christ.
3) Your congregation seems very free to comment on sermons and lessons as they are presented. How does that affect the flow of service? Do you see that changing as you grow numerically?
(Brandon) Most teachers would worry about the flow of a service being interrupted, but that's the way we've always done things. From the very beginning, no matter who was teaching, it was important to us to learn from one another through discussion. We all have something to bring to the table and we think that everyone should have the opportunity to be heard. As we grow, the hope is that we can maintain discussion sessions through smaller groups within the congregation.
4) What is your vision in terms of seeing people engaged? I understand you both are not just about increased attendance, but what other things do you want to see people involved in?
(Brandon)We want to equip our congregation to not only take the knowledge of the Torah with them, but to "be Torah" as Yeshua was. Being engaged would mean several things: participating in discussions, giving Torah portions, and serving the congregation as God has gifted them. By doing this, we also pray that this will give them the confidence to exercise their faith outside of the fellowship.
(Ron) Brandon you are so right. We have been very excited to see people pick up their Bibles and become engaged in the study of God’s word. Many have said the scripture is coming alive for the first time in their life. We are starting to see Hebrews 4:12 come alive. (For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.)
5) So you started from a home church. I was wondering, do you have any outside support? Most church starts have a founding “parent” church to help with start up cost.
(Brandon) Up until the point that we got too large to meet in a home anymore, we really didn't have the support of a parent congregation. Just before we became a Messianic congregation, we were allowed to meet in another church's building, which we were extremely grateful for. Even as we progressed in the Hebraic roots movement, cost wasn't an issue. But we are glad to have been surrounded by support and prayer from other Messianic congregations in the area.
(Ron) We really are self supporting. So far the cost has been minimal. We do see in the future a possible need for a spiritual covering or maybe we will grow and we can be a support for other fellowshipping congregations.
6) I want to hear a little bit more about redefining church with MLF. What are some of your perspectives that have changed since Home church, Porch Light and now Mosaic Life Fellowship?
(Ron) Redefining church is an interesting question. Mosaic Life Fellowship is a gathering place for believers in Messiah who are awakening to the Hebraic roots of their faith. We started seeking truth and still are seeking truth in love. We now have a place for these people to worship and grow in understanding and faith and we continue to grow.
(Brandon) I think the main thing we wanted to do was getting back to understanding the foundation of our faith in Yeshua. He was, without a doubt, a Jew. Our claim of seeking to follow Him and be His disciples is what we are all about. He taught God's word, the Torah, which we all previously thought was of no effect. Many of us would have said the Law was done away with. But in seeing and better understanding what Yeshua taught and who He was, we came to realize the significance of the Torah to our lives as to really becoming a disciple.
(Ron) We believe the complete Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, Old Testament to New Testament is the inspired, infallible, Word of God. It is this authority we hold to be doctrinal truth and shows us the proper way to live, worship and obey Yahweh (God), (Jesus) Yeshua, as our Lord and (Holy Spirit) Ruach HaKodesh guides us. We teach and assemble under these truths.
Thanks guys for your time and the interview, I pray that God blesses your efforts and you see much growth in the coming years!