John Key is the President of Community Servants, a ministry serving in Smyrna, TN. Throughout the course of each year, hundreds of people come from all around the United States to invest time in helping the poor. For many teens, this might be their first experience tangibly ministering the love of Christ to the poor.

In addition to their work at Wherry Housing Cooperative, they've recently branched out into more cross-cultural ministry opportunities. Because of the large refugee populations in the greater Nashville, TN region, there are several places they've been able to go.

And, just this year, they opened a hands-on Mission Training School. Unlike some schools, their students don't invest months or years in the classroom before beginning cross-cultural ministry. Instead, they spend part of each day in the classroom and then another part in hands-on ministry.

Finally, on a personal note, I consider John to be a friend. He and I have served in ministry together and he has invested heavily in my life, as have so many other people.

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Life in Ministry

John was raised in church but walked away for a few years. When he was in his mid-30s, he returned to The Lord. God restored him in many ways. He's been serving in ministry since 1994 and now serves as a home missionary in Middle Tennessee.

Key Quote

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One of the most challenging times in John's time was following a trip to Mexico in 1994. When he left, he felt that God was calling him to return to minister there. He and his wife had prayed and felt that it was God's plan for them.

But that didn't mean they were able to leave immediately. Instead, they spent the longest 4 years learning the value of waiting when God said it wasn't time yet.


When John was in language school in Mexico, two different missionaries who he didn't know prayed over him. Each let him know that they felt he would be involved in training thousands and thousands of missionaries.

While that really spoke to John's heart, he had no idea the path it would take him on. Or the ways that God's plan would weave seeming setbacks into actually fulfilling those words.

Current Ministry

Right now, some of the most exciting things are how God has been expanding the ministry of Community Servants. What started over 20 years ago with Missions Pastor Bruce Coble has now expanded. John is now the President and has already hired his replacement as the Executive Director. He's busy training her and helping her fulfill what God has put in her heart.

They've now expanded to two more apartment complexes, both full of cross-cultural ministry opportunities. Still, because of they way they've expanded, John has been freed up to focus his time on the Missionary Training School.

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One of the things they're able to do as they invest in refugees expands what they're doing beyond what most missionaries do. As they invest in the lives of these people, they open up the opportunities for Gospel expansion in countries that are closed to missionaries.

I want to make sure this is clear:

What they're doing could bring the Gospel to people who have had no access. Not just here in the USA. But globally.


Significance in the Marketplace

John offers some great insight, based on his 10+ years of Marketplace Ministry.

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Level Up

When John and Shirley Key were serving in Mexico, they were supported in a variety of ways. However, one person's gift was very personal and a real stretch for her. What she gave meant a lot to John and Shirley. And it's something nearly anyone can do.

Speed Round


  • He didn't know everything.

Done Differently

  • Learned how to study the Scriptures in context better.

Best Advice

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Personal Success Habit

  • Daily Quiet Time – Bible + Journal

Internet Resource

Book Recommendation

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Shifts in Society

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New Place

  • Start praying
  • Look for a person of peace
  • Look for help with language and directions
  • Begin a friendship and share why he's there

Parting Advice

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Contact Info

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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