"But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere."
2 Corinthians 2:14
Tony Canady was lying in bed, watching a TV evangelist, when the evangelist quoted 2 Corinthians 2:14. Canady felt the Lord tugging at his heart, so he pulled out his Bible and read the passage. As he read, he heard the Lord’s voice telling him to plant a church inspired by the verse, one that celebrated the “triumphal” life and resurrection of Christ. Canady, who already had a full-time job as a finance manager at a car dealership, had long thought about joining the ministry of an existing church, but he had never thought he would plant one himself.
“I said, ‘Lord, I know you're not asking me to start a church.’ And the Lord said, ‘You're right, I’m telling you to start a church,’” Canady said of the moment.
Canady and his wife felt led to plant the church in Waxahachie, which was about thirty minutes away from where his family lived in Mansfield. It was called Triumphal Christian Fellowship, after the verse that had inspired the church in the first place. As he began the church starting process, Canady connected with the Texas Baptists Church Starting team.
He explained that he initially reached out because he already knew a lot of other churches and ministries that were affiliated with Texas Baptists. As a Texas Baptists church plant, he would have access to resources and fellowship that could be otherwise difficult for a fledgling church to find.
“For me, it wasn't even about the financial piece that they were able to give – that was just like the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae – I was just impressed with the connections, with the fellowship, with the [feeling that] it's not a competition. If one church is doing something amazing, another church is celebrating it,” Canady explained. “Being in a team environment is what honestly kind of drew me to want to be a part a big part of Texas Baptists.”
Lonnie Tucker, the Church Starting strategist for Area 4, worked with Canady, providing support for the pastor and guiding them through the process of becoming a church.
“He's introduced me to so many different people. He's come to the church, we've gone to lunch, we've talked, and I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that whoever your church starting strategist is, they're going to lean in to you,” Canady said.
The church launched its first service on September 22, 2021.
Diversity was a key emphasis from the inception of Triumphal Christian Fellowship. Canady explained that the aim of the church was not just to be racially diverse, but also socio-economically and generationally.
“Diversity to me is having all different walks of life come together on a Sunday morning and doing life together,” he said.
“This is a slice of heaven,” he added.
As a bivocational pastor, Canady acknowledged that it was easy, at times, to become overwhelmed by juggling family, secular job and ministerial duties. He continued to say that remembering that the church was God’s work, not his, was a source of comfort and support.
“God let me understand early that I'm only an instrument, and I'm only a vessel. This is His church, He's just going to use me to do the work,” he shared. “And that took all the pressure off of me.”
Triumphal Christian Fellowship celebrated its six-month anniversary in March by baptizing ten people in a trough at the front of the worship space. It was a mix of young and old, Black and white, long-time church-goers and recent attendees. As each person came up from the water and stepped out of the trough, cheers went up around the room. That Sunday, the church had 80 attendees, a new record for the church.
As Triumphal continues to grow and establish itself, Canady asked Texas Baptists to pray that the heart of the church always remains centered on God.
“I would love for people to pray that we can continue to grow in a healthy way and that we never forget that this is His church,” he said. “I am just the foreman of His project for the church He is building.”
To learn more about Texas Baptists Church Starting, go to txb.org/missions.