It was the fall of 2002, and the first time I heard him speak I knew there was something very unique about Roy “Soup” Campbell. One month after that first encounter, as we sat on his front porch step at 5 a.m., Soup told me he wasn’t interested in how smart or talented I was, but if I was “faithful”, he could show me how to be a man of God. I had never had a man challenge me like that. I quickly accepted, and little did I know, my life would never be the same, as Soup began discipling me that day. I grew by leaps and bounds spiritually as Soup taught me the Word of God, while modeling it for me during our time together. For the first time in my life, I understood what “making disciples” was all about. I also realized what I was experiencing in my relationship with Soup was foundational in the first century church, but had become wildly exceptional in Christianity today.
A few months later, the vision for Downline Ministries was birthed in me as I stepped onto a plane at Houston Hobby Airport, having just spoken at a youth conference in The Woodlands, Texas. As I sat down to process what would now happen to the hundreds of students who had just made a decision for Christ, I felt an emptiness in the pit of my stomach. Just a few hours earlier, I was offering my final challenge to a hungry crowd of high school students, ready to take the world for Christ, and now I wondered how many of those newly birthed dreams would ever become a reality. Having spent a few years under Soup’s wing, I knew a key to the sanctification process of any believer is consistent, biblical discipleship and, without that in place, many of those students would most likely be guilt-ridden backsliders in a month, as the worldly temptations they face are stronger and more dangerous than ever before. I knew in that moment my calling was not just to “do the work of an evangelist”, but to train other believers to be disciple-makers and to aid church and para-church organizations across the country in restoring biblical, multiplicative discipleship as foundational in their ministry context.
After meeting with many pastors around Memphis, and discovering they sadly had no clear plan or answer to how their churches were making disciples, I began prayerfully discerning the specific nature of this call. I founded Downline Ministries to aid in the training of men to make disciples. Downline is a nonprofit organization, developed under the guidance and leadership of a phenomenal board of directors, including Kem Wilson, Jr., Jack Moore, Roy “Soup” Campbell, Hamp Holcomb, Dr. David Libby, Paul Ellis, and Dr. James Selecman.
In the fall of 2004, the vision for Downline became increasingly clear when I moved to Denton, Texas to study under renowned pastor Tom Nelson, who not only taught me the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, but also showed me how to systematically teach others the Bible over the course of a year. Having learned through my personal research that the keys to equipping men and women to make disciples include teaching them God’s Word and giving them a proper understanding of disciple-making, the time I spent with Pastor Nelson was a providential step in the formation of Downline into what it has become today.
Through its Institutes and Emerging Leaders programs, Downline is equipping men and women in the areas of disciple-making, Old Testament, New Testament, systematic theology, biblical manhood and biblical womanhood, so they are prepared to be effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ in their home, local church and community. I am thrilled to see what God has done so far through Downline, and would be honored to have you as a teammate in this endeavor. I firmly believe that with the prayers and resources of people who share the burden of reaching people for Christ, God will do great things through Downline for His glory.
– Dr. Kennon Vaughan, Founder & President