Pastors Henry and Alex Seeley helped pioneer Aussie mega church Planetshakers, leading people across the globe in worship. Yet in 2012 they left this behind and moved to Nashville, Tennessee. Now the founders of a thriving inner city church named The Belonging Co. they tell Jessica Morris why becoming pastors was never on their agenda.
You left everything behind when you moved to Nashville. Why did you move, and how did it happen?
Henry: We had been part of our home church for many years in Melbourne. In 2009, God spoke to me about moving to the US, and we weren’t sure what that was going to look like. So we prayed that if we were meant to go we’d get an American green card in the green card lottery. We got that. So we packed up our things, wound up in Nashville and waited on further instructions from God.
Many in Australia are so familiar with you and your music. What was it like leaving that behind and starting from scratch?
Alex: I won’t say it was like peaches and cream on the other side, because life moves on back in Australia and you’re over here and you’re starting from zero. We came as strangers in an unknown land. So the first six months, for me personally, were really hard and I was very lonely and ready to go home until God reassured me that we’d done the right thing.
Tell me about your church The Belonging Co. How did it begin?
Henry: I had made a promise in my heart that ‘I’m never going to pastor a church’, so when we wound up here in Nashville and couldn’t find a church to attend, we started to meet people whose lives revolved around their music and touring. We wanted to create an environment for them to worship and give them community here in Nashville.
The first time we met together was a Tuesday, and there were seven people. We ended up with a hundred-something people in our basement and realised that all the time God had been planting a church and we had to kind of get on board with what he wanted to do.
We officially launched as a church in February 2014 with about 120–130 people. And now our church is somewhere around 3,000 and God’s just doing amazing things. It’s been an incredible journey.
Alex: Most days I think, ‘What the heck are we doing?’ But we’ve kept it about loving God and loving people genuinely.
You both balance pastoring the church with a career in music and public speaking. How do you care for your own faith and family life amidst this?
Alex: We put family first on everything. If anything is suffocating, we just leave it out. The minute we start to live with stress or anxiety, ‘Okay, we’re not living like this’, so we’ve really learnt how to set boundaries around what we’re doing.
Henry: We work hard and play hard!