Growing up as the only young person in his church, Pierce Drake had no idea this experience would influence his later life and ministry.
“My dad became a pastor in the Methodist church in the south Georgia conference when I was 5, and we started moving around to small churches,” he says. “Up until I was in high school, the next person in age to me was my mom.”
Having relationships intergenerationally became a part of who he was, and it influenced how he saw ministry.
“For the ministry side of it,” he says, “I don’t start at zero. I start where the generation before me has brought things. Their ceiling becomes my floor, and my ceiling becomes the next generation’s floor.”
But Pierce’s spiritual walk wasn’t always an easy one. He accepted Jesus as his Savior when he was seven, but in high school and college, he questioned his faith. His parents were strong Christians and Pierce knew what was expected of him, but he struggled with belief. A friend in college questioned Pierce on his belief system, which led to a two-year journey of studying world religions. Because he grew up with Christianity and thought he knew it, Pierce saved it for last. He was surprised to find out that he didn’t know Jesus that well.
“I encountered Jesus the end of my sophomore year of college, and from then on, I was in it,” he says. “I changed my degree to a religion major and began to answer the call and the doors began to open.”
After graduation, he served two churches in London for a year before moving back to south Georgia for four years. After that, he moved to Nashville, where he has been for the past six years.
Throughout his journey, Pierce says, Jesus has been there, guiding and directing him, even when he wasn’t able to see it.
“I look back on my story as a whole — even when I ran from the church — and Jesus was always gentle and tender, never aggressive or angry. As a youth pastor for 12 years, when parents would tell me their kid was leaving the faith, I could sit in that calmly, not because I didn’t care but because I have seen Jesus do it in my own life.”
Pierce is excited about his new role as Pastor of Community Formation, and he feels his early experiences in the church will serve him well.
“I can remember a lot of great sermons, growing up in the church, but my life has been changed when I met with people around the kitchen table,” he says. “When I shared life and faith in their community, their homes, their spaces, that is what has enriched my faith. I’m really honored and excited to work toward helping people at TWMC live out their faith around their kitchen tables and in community.”
Pierce and his wife, Claire, have one daughter, Emmie Jo.