Steve and Terri Cook spent 15 years serving as associate leaders at City Church in Fort Worth, Texas, followed by another 15 years serving as the senior leaders of Impact Church in Benbrook, Texas. In March of 2019, after a four year journey of personal and corporate destiny discovery, the Lord led them to step away from Impact Church. Impact Purpose and Destiny is an outgrowth and result of the Lord’s leading and direction. This is their story, in their own words.
“Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12.1). What? This was the second time in my life that the Lord had spoken this scripture to me. The last time involved me leaving a church that I thought would be the place where I would serve for life. Now, years later I found myself in the exact position. I have spent the last 15 years of my life building a wonderful work named Impact Church and now you want me to leave it? Father, why would you give me this vision, have me spend all this time establishing it and then ask me to leave the work that is the conduit of this vision?
The answer was shift and direct. The Lord said to me, “I have spent the last 30 years cultivating a ‘fine new wine’ in your life, and it is a fine wine. But, Impact Church is not the wineskin from which it can be dispensed. If you stay, the old wineskin will burst and the wine will be dissipated. If you step out in faith, leaving what you know and what you think is best, I will craft a new wineskin that can hold and deliver it.”
Don’t misunderstand, there was nothing wrong with Impact Church. The people were awesome. The fruit of the ministry was awesome. The mission, vision and values were awesome. It just was not the conduit that the Lord wanted to use in my life and ministry.
There is nothing wrong with old wineskins. Jesus did not say to throw them out, he simply said that you can not put new wine into old wineskins because the new wine will cause them to burst. God had been “brewing” something new in me for 30 years and He has accelerated that process in the last 4 years. Now He needed a new wineskin for it to be poured out.
From the time that I surrendered my life to the Lord at age 20, I have always had a heart for “the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry” and I have always known that the purpose of church leadership is to equip the church for ministry (Ephesians 4.11-12). I have always been a bit uncomfortable with one or a few people getting to fulfill their “ministry” and the vast majority’s role is just supporting it.
Again, please do not misunderstand. I am in no way, shape, form or fashion anti-church. I am a “church guy” and will be until the day I die. The Church is God’s idea and the conduit for bringing His kingdom to the earth. So, those who are anti-church, are “kicking against the goads” (Acts 26:14), and I am not one of them. What I am, is passionate about seeing the Church function the way that God intended, as a family and as a body where every part is functioning in their place (Romans 12.1-8, Ephesians 4.11-16). I have always believed that the Church was to be a family, not a factory; a resource center, not a recreation center; and a ministry incubator, not a nursery.
I have not always known how to articulate what was inside of me or how to pursue it. I did not see very many true models of what I felt was the vision that God had given me. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I am just being rebellious. Are Terri and I “pioneers of a heavenly way” (which had been spoken over us more than once), or are we like the Pied Piper? Over the years that vision within remained, but as a minister and as a ministry, we function like a “normal” church.
In 2014, the Lord began to work in our life and marriage in a tremendous way. The Lord began to work in us personally, in our marriage, in our finances, in every area. God used many different people and circumstances to begin to shake what needed to be shaken and to strengthen what was weak. These workings from the Lord was the catalyst for rekindling the flame that honestly had been on autopilot for some time. God began to speak to me concerning the way that I was “doing” ministry. He said, “Stop being reactive and start being proactive. Stop being reactionary and start being visionary”.
I began to seek the Lord, asking Him to give me the blueprint of a vision that He had for me and Impact Church. Over the next year, the leadership of Impact Church sought the Lord and we basically started from scratch. Who are we? Why does God have us in Benbrook? What are we passionate about? What is our personality, both individually and corporately? What scriptures get repeated over and over in the messages here? What are our experiences? What is our history? What successes have we had that we what to see repeated? What testimonies do we have that we want to see repeated?
Through this discovery process, we were able to clearly articulate our mission (why we do what we do), our vision (what we are building) and our values (core beliefs that drive our mission and vision). Not someone else’s vision. Not a vision that we got from a church growth book. We were articulating a mission, vision and values that came from the Lord. A vision that came from who we were, who God had created us to be. We were discovery our destiny.
A foundational part of this vision was intentionally moving the structure of the church from a Pastoral Model to an Apostolic Model. Please do not let these terms scare you. Pastoral has to do with tending, Apostolic has to do with building. I know that there has been a lot of abuse and downright weirdness around the words “Apostolic” and “Apostle”, but we must apply the Latin proverb, “Abusus non tollit usum.” Misuse does not remove use.
A Pastoral Model church gathers, tends and keeps. Gathering, tending to and keeping people is absolutely an essential part of ministry, but it should not be the end.
An Apostolic Model church gathers, trains and sends. This model encompasses the Pastoral Model, but goes further in fulfilling God’s intention for the church and church leadership, i.e., the perfecting of the saints for the work of ministry.
As we began to articulate and implement the vision and intentionally create a culture, I took what we had done corporately as a leadership and personalized it. I began to lead my leadership team though the same process that we had just done with the church. Just as the church has a mission and vision, so does every person have a mission and vision. I called this passion of mine, “Purpose and Destiny Discovery”. After leading my leadership team through this process, and them embracing this Purpose and Destiny Discovery, we began to expand it to the 2nd tier of leadership.
My passion is to help people understand and realize that God created them exactly how He wanted them, their personality, their color, their sex, their generation, everything. Sure we are all “damaged goods” because we live in a fallen world, but God did create you the way He intended. He did send His Son to redeem us back to Him and to restore us to our original state and purpose. We can not say, “This is just the way God made me” to excuse sin or bad behavior, but neither should we create some cookie-cutter model of a believer. Each person is unique and has a unique gift-mix and a unique “world” that God has placed them in for his kingdom purposes. Our job as church leaders is to raise them up into maturity so that they can fulfill their destiny.
It was during the wonderful time of ministry that I began to feel that the Lord was leading me to step away from Impact Church. “I rebuke you Satan”, was my answer. How could this be God? But over the course of the next two years, through His Word, wise counsel and many confirming circumstances, I began to realize that this was not the enemy trying to derail me. No, it was God, my Father leading me.
It was during this time that one of the elders at Impact Church posed the question, “Are we a Church or are we a ministry?” When I first heard him, I said, “We are both. We are a Church and a ministry.” Inside I was thinking, “What kind of question is that?” But, as I thought about it more, I began to understand what he was asking and I began to understand the wisdom behind the question. Eventually, I understood that he was right. We are a ministry, but the format of Impact Church is not how God wants it to be ministered.
And yes, I did say two years. I wished I could say that God’s man of faith and power said, “Yes Lord, send me” right away, but it took two years. I am just glad that God is patient and uses all things to work together for good (Romans 8.28).
So, in February of 2019 Terri and I, along with the leadership, announced that we would be stepping down as the senior leaders of Impact Church. As it turned out, this also meant that Impact Church would cease meeting in its current format. This was very hard for me to accept, but I knew that it was God leading me.
Our last service was on Easter Sunday 2019. We then began our journey “to the land that I will show you.” I never had a feeling that the vision within me was dying, just the conduit for it’s delivery had to change. Wineskins may change, but the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable (Romans 11.29). So, Impact Purpose and Destiny was born. Terri and I look forward to how God is going to use us to fulfill the vision that He has given us for Impact Purpose and Destiny:
Our vision is to be a resource center and a ministry incubator that equips and empowers people and organizations to walk in intimate relationship with God the Father, discover their identity, embrace their purpose and fulfill their destiny, thus impacting and transforming lives, communities and future generations.
Steve and Terri Cook have been in married for 30 years. They currently live in Benbrook, Texas and are members of New River Fellowship Benbrook. They have a 26 year old son and a 22 year old daughter.
Steve is currently bi-vocational, working as Compliance Director at Mid America Mortgage, Inc. He is a graduate of Christ For the Nations, Southwestern Assemblies of God University and has an MDiv from Apostolic University. Terri works for Helping Restore Ability and operates a tax exempt organization, Njoy Foundation, whose goal is to help families of special needs children enjoy and get the very best out of life. Terri is also a graduate of Christ for the Nations.