Tim Ross just stepped down from his role as senior pastor at Embassy City Church, a church he started nearly a decade ago, to start a podcast. It was a leap of faith because he didn’t understand why God was calling him to make the move, but he would soon find out. His YouTube podcast, The Basement With Tim Ross, grew to more than 100 thousand subscribers only a few months after launching. As that number continues to climb, Tim Ross continues to embrace the ambiguity of the season into which God has called him. On this episode of the Church InTension podcast, The King’s University President, Dr. Jon Chasteen, talks with Tim about the changing season and how he started his popular podcast.
Dr. Jon Chasteen: Hey, Church Intension family. Thanks for joining us today. Today I’m about to chop it up with one of my favorite human beings. I know you know him, he’s been on the podcast. Today you’re about to experience an episode of Tim Ross and I just having an absolute blast together. And we have so much fun, though. We went way over our time. So what we’ve done is we’ve taken this episode and we’ve chopped it into two episodes. You’re about to see part one. And then one week from today, we will release part two. I hope, I pray, that you’re doing well. I pray that this podcast that you’re about to listen to, blesses you, challenges you, and entertains you because we have a blast. Check it out.
Tim Ross: Yes sir.
Jon: What are you doing?
Tim: Just chilling. Just making the most major transition of my entire life.
Jon: I know.
Tim: And acting calm about it.
Jon: That’s actually one of the things I want to talk about.
Jon: Because you talked to me about this before, and so I kind of knew it was coming. So I got to kind of get this front row seat of how it unpacked and how it kind of rolled out. So our listeners don’t even know what we’re talking about. So what happened?
Tim: So, I am stepping down as the lead pastor of Embassy City Church. My last day was December 31st, 2022.
Jon: So what’s cool about it that I witnessed as an outsider, so to speak, looking in, is you took something that was… I listened to it. Okay. I wasn’t there, but I listened to it and anybody can go back and listen to it, it’s in the archives. You made something that seemed like a tragic, horrific announcement. By the end of it, I was like, let’s go. You created something that was energizing, which is not easy to do when you’re making that kind of a announcement because nobody in your church wanted Timmy to leave.
Jon: Flat Timmy or 3D Timmy.
Tim: Yeah, for sure. Absolutely. You’re right.
Jon: So what thought process did you go through there? I mean, how strategic was it? Combining the spiritual component and the strategic component? Spiritual and the natural.
Tim: Yeah. So it was way more spiritual than it was strategic. And I am a strategist, but I just really felt like this transition was birthed by God. We gave a prophetic word, September of ’21. We prayed through it the rest of ’21. We get to January of ’22. It’s super clear. My season is supposed to come to an end. I don’t even have an idea why. I just know it’s supposed to come to an end. So we distill that more. God shows me who my successor is. He accepts. Everything’s great. We get to the fall. I now have to share it with the congregation. October 2nd, Juliet and I sit down, the elders want to know, the staff, want to know, how are you going to approach this? What’s the strategy to share this?
And are you going to announce your successor the same day you announced your transition? And should we wait? And what if everybody leaves? And all that kind of stuff. I’m like, well, if God started this, then he’s in charge of all the… Maybe I’m just too basic. I was just like, he’s the one who asked for it. So if the church collapses, then it’s his fault. It won’t be my fault. Not going to put that pressure on me. So I said, our responsibility on October 2nd is to walk in there, sit down, and communicate authentically and transparently.
Jon: I was about to use those words. It was so natural. You were just Tim and Juliet.
Tim: Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. So that’s what we did. Here’s strategy that most people would be like, that’s just really inconsequential, unless it isn’t. So we did give this news, and when you have multiple services, you have multiple personalities by group dynamic. Right?
Tim: A nine o’clock service by thinking wavelength is a different service than your 11. So the 11 took it a little bit harder than the 9:00 AM, but we gave everybody cake. Bro. We ordered $6,800 worth of nothing bunt cakes, and we just passed them out at the end of every service.
Jon: Did you lace the cakes with any kind of drug to make it all-
Tim: We didn’t but that frosting cream-
Jon: Would’ve been good.
Tim: But that cream cheese frosting is low key a drug. So basically we just said, “Hey, whether you’re-“
Jon: A celebration.
Tim: “Whether you’re glad,” not even a celebration, here’s what we said. “Whether you’re glad or sad, eat some cake.”
Tim: And there were some people that were like-
Jon: Not going to argue with that.
Tim: They were taking the flavors like it was manna for different days. Monday, I need white chocolate, and Tuesday I need red velvet, and Wednesday I need lemon. So that was to the extent of it. And we just kind of put it in the Lord’s hands and step back and let him do what he does.
Jon: Well, it was really well done and it just felt, I think what was it was… I guess the best word I could use to describe is it was disarming. So you said it in a way to where nobody could weaponize it back against you.
Tim: Nice. Wow.
Jon: You said it in a way where it’s like, take it or leave it. We’re just following the Lord’s leading. And there were moments of humor, there were moments of sadness. It was just the full emotional component of it. It didn’t feel transactional at all.
Jon: It felt very-
Tim: I needed your recap the day after I did this, why am I just hearing this now? You should have sent me a text.
Jon: You just don’t see it well done very often. So when you see it, you’re like, wow, that’s something special about that. And for you to step… I think it’s important for you to talk about… You stepped down. That’s a safety net. Let’s just be real.
Tim: Yeah, for sure. Oh, for sure.
Jon: You could have rode that sucker for 20 years.
Tim: Oh, absolutely.
Jon: And just chilled.
Tim: Oh, absolutely.
Jon: So there was something about it that… What did it feel like? What was the stirring in you, whether it was six months, a year before that when you were like, okay, what’s wrong? What’s going on here? Because it gets to the point where, okay, this, I know the Lord saying it. Let’s go. But leading up to that, was it clear from the get-go? Did the Lord just say do it or was there a process of, what is that?
Tim: It’s a weird feeling. This thing caught caught me on an angle I was not expecting. It’s literally, I played wide receiver in high school, so it’s basically running a hitch route. You run a five yards, stop on a dime, turn around, that ball’s there, bam, you catch the ball, you turn around a runup field, and some demon possesed trucked linebacker merks you, and you fly eight feet out of bounds. You were already on that side. And that’s how it caught me. So this wasn’t like a I was kind of sensitive. I didn’t know I’d had permission. We were ready to look for new buildings. I was ready to step in full waste.
Jon: Dude, a few months before that, you and I were talking about-
Tim: Buildings, the fries off MacArthur became available. And we were looking at all these different places. And then some place that was basically the Christian QVC went out of business. It was almost 200,000 square feet. And we were looking to see if we maybe could get that. And then the Lord’s like, no. It was almost like if I was Moses, and I’m like, the promise lands right there. Oh my goodness. I’m gearing up from my last push. Right? God, you partnered with me to part the Red Sea. Now we’re about to do the Jordan. And then I know after that I’m probably going to sit down. Right? And then the Lord’s like, yeah, no, you’re done now. So for me, honestly, when the Lord told me, and it became clear, the first thought I had was, did I do something wrong? I thought this was a polite way of getting fired. You know what I’m saying? Did I strike the rock twice?
Jon: Yeah. You know what I mean? You stay on my Nebo.
Tim: Yeah. You know what I mean? Hey, come up here and say goodbye to everybody. Right? So I was very, man, I was very, very introspective during that time because I’m like, did I do something wrong? And the Holy Spirit was like, no, actually, well done. You’re done. And we think we know when we’re done. Right? It’s like, you scored 63 points. It’s the best basketball game you’ve ever played. There’s nine minutes and 48 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Coach is like, and you’re like, nope, I might match Kobe. You know what I mean? I think I can get another 17 easy. These clowns can’t guard me. And he’s like, you’re done for the night. And you’re like, oh my. I don’t want to be done with nine minutes and 48 seconds left in the fourth quarter, and I’m having the game of my life. But the coach told me you’re done.
Jon: So I want to make it… That happened to me. So I need to tell this story and call out a friend of mine. So when I was in college, I had 46 points and the coach pulled me out. I had the school record for the most points in the game of school history. And coach pulled me out with eight or nine minutes left in the fourth quarter. And then a week later, Princeton Mitchell, Princeto I hope you’re listening to this. Princeton Mitchell was a teammate of mine, and we were playing another team. And we get to 46 minutes with about five, he gets to 46 points, with about five, six minutes left. And I’m like, coach.
Tim: Right, exactly. Take him out.
Jon: Pull his tail out. Didn’t pull dude. Score 52.
Tim: Oh my God.
Jon: I have bitterness and resentment in my heart to this day.
Tim: Oh man. That’s why your intention now, I understand the name of this podcast.
Jon: It’s such a tension. But anyways, that’s cool, man. How hard was that to obey?
Tim: It wasn’t hard. No. This is my fourth major transition. And so I’m used to it now, but it hurt. It hurt because it’s a beautiful season that I loved. And-
Jon: You love the church. You love the-
Tim: Well here, here’s my statement. My statement is, you cannot properly leave what you don’t properly grieve. So if it meant something to you, it’s worthy of your tears. If it’s meant something to you, it’s worthy of your you grief, you care about it.
Jon: If you didn’t care about it, you wouldn’t have cried.
Tim: Exactly. So Juliet and I cried hard and we were pitiful some days we were like really pitiful, but never at the expense of obedience. We were going to do it. We still feel like there’s disproportionately way more am ambiguity than there is clarity. But is if this is not the journey of faith, nothing is.
Jon: That’s so good. So then you started this little podcast that’s struggling to get off the ground, that hopefully the magnitude of this podcast can really propel your podcast, because I know it’s really struggling.
Tim: I just hope we get some subscribers if you all could subscribe.
Jon: You started this landslide.
Tim: Oh my God.
Jon: The basement man. What’s going on with this?
Hey guys, I want to pause the conversation for just a moment to let you know about a really great resource at the Kings University that we are rolling out to you for free. Yes. I said free. It’s called the King’s Collective. It’s simply that, it’s a collection of resources for you, designed for you, for ministry leaders, for people doing the work of the ministry. On it you’re going to find tons of great resources to encourage you, to equip you to train you. You’re going to find podcasts like this one. But you’re also going to find other podcasts like the Women in Ministry Leadership Podcast. You’re going to find articles written by some of our faculty here at the Kings University in our seminary. You’re going to find articles written by friends of the university, church leaders, some of the biggest churches, some of the greatest leaders in America.
It is designed for you. We have new things coming out very, very soon to help train your kids pastors, to train your youth pastors, to train worship leaders all free. Yes. It’s 100% free. All you need to do is go to collective.tku.edu. On it you’ll need to sign up at, give us your email address and then all of these resources will be sent straight to your inbox. It’s a no-brainer, guys. We’re excited. We’re passionate about training you for ministry. Let us be a resource to you. So go to collective.tku.edu today.
Tim: Dude. So I was with my therapist two weeks ago and she was asking me, because the last time I met with her, prior to two weeks ago was the middle of June. So this is two and a half weeks before the pod drops. And I come back and she’s like, how do you have a hundred thousand subscribers? I saw you four months ago. I’m like, I don’t know. But with that said, she helped me wordsmith what I was feeling, because she was like, how does this feel? And I was like, I feel disoriented. I feel overwhelmed, but in the best type of way. And then she’s listening to all these words and then she just goes, bewildered. And I’m like-
Jon: You’re a word guy so that you hit you.
Tim: Oh my God. I was like, bewildered is the most beautiful word for this entire process and this entire season. I’m like, I’m beautifully bewildered.
Tim: This word works for me right now. This is what I really feel. So that’s how I feel about it. Well, beautifully bewildered.
Jon: We went to lunch, I don’t know when it was a couple weeks ago and you were telling me, you said John this podcast has already reached more people’s ears or eyes than all of my sermons combined for my life.
Tim: In 26 years. Yeah.
Jon: Man, that’s crazy.
Tim: It is crazy, that’s stupid. I feel like I got permission from God to call him obnoxious. I don’t know how some people are going to feel.
Jon: Well, you just didn’t get struck by lightning.
Tim: I think I’m good and I’ve caught him that several times over the last maybe decade and a half, Jehovah obnoxious, because I feel like sometimes him as my dad, he does stuff that I feel like I get very uncomfortable by. He does stuff where I feel like he’s the dad in the stands that comes to the game and every time I walk on the court, he’s like, woo, he’s the greatest. Oh my God. Give him the ball coach. He’s the greatest player on your team. And everyone hears it. All the kids that are on my team are like, who’s dad is that? And I’m like that’s my dad.
Jon: That’s cool.
Tim: I haven’t done anything. Please. I don’t like the attention. So this is how this feels like I’m embracing it now, but it’s very uncomfortable for me.
Jon: Well, because you’re an introvert.
Tim: I am. Yeah.
Jon: Yeah. So to come out and be an extrovert, you could do it well obviously, but it’s different.
Tim: It takes something out of me.
Jon: Do you know what I think it is? I’ve prayed about this, Tim, and I think I know what’s causing the basement to be so successful. I think it’s the glasses.
Tim: Yeah. Maybe it is. It’s probably the glasses.
Jon: I think so, can I try them all?
Tim: Yes you can. But are you ready for a hundred thousand people to subscribe to-
Jon: Well, I’m wondering if there’s an anointing.
Tim: There might be. It is a prescription though. It is a prescription. That’s not a like a cool look deal.
Jon: I actually kind of need these.
Tim: See? Yeah. I mean, and they look good on you too.
Jon: Oh yeah. Our listeners can’t see this, but our YouTubers can see.
Tim: Oh yeah, for sure. That looks good.
Jon: Yeah, dude, I’m proud of you. You don’t need me to be, but I’m proud of you. You’re crushing it.
Tim: Thank you, bro.
Jon: And it’s a great podcast, man. What I love about it is are it says the same thing. I said, will it go about whenever you did the succession? It’s just real. It’s raw.
Jon: And like we were saying before we pushed record is if you don’t know the answer or you just say, I don’t know.
Tim: I don’t know. Yeah. I love the podcast. I love it a hundred times more than preaching. If you told me you could preach crusades with a hundred thousand people in each one, or sit here and do this podcast for the rest of your life, I’ll never preach again.
Tim: And I love preaching. I love the art of it. This has been my adult life, 26 years this is all I’ve done. But the podcast man it’s the way I talk at home. It’s the way that I disciple. It’s the way that I mentor. The podcast is not for everybody. I think that needs to be said. Right? Not everything is for everybody. But I do feel like I’m talking to, in my mind’s eye, I feel like I’m talking to somebody that a male or a female, a male and a female, that’s between 23 and 26 and their brain’s not fully developed yet. Because psychology says, your brain’s not fully developed until 25.
And basically my tone, I feel is like that of Solomon in the book of Proverbs, like, hey my son, you’re about to go out and start life. You’re about to start your career. You don’t need to be around these kind of dudes. Stay away from these kind of women. You know what I mean? Don’t go into debt over your friends. There’s good bribes and bad bribes. You need to know the difference between those. When you get married, this is how sexually satisfying-
Jon: Don’t do that. Do this, don’t do that.
Tim: Yeah, yeah.
Jon: Yeah. It’s like a father talking to a Solomon talking to-
Tim: Absolutely. So the tone of that is very straightforward.
Jon: Well, I think it’s because our culture has become so PC or if there’s a mic in front of your face, be real careful what you say, you might offend somebody and so I think people are super hungry just to hear somebody just tell me.
Tim: Yeah, dude.
Jon: Even if you’re not 100%, just be blunt. Just tell me something that has any sort of biblical foundation.
Tim: Yes. Yeah, absolutely.
Jon: And give me a direction to point and that says, instead of saying, well, just kind of this general direction. No, go, right here.
Tim: Well, the book of proverb prepared someone for life. Solomon wasn’t preparing a sermon he was preparing a person. And the way you prepare people is different from the way you prepare a sermon. And so I follow the rules when I’m sermonizing, but when I’m peopleizing, yeah, I’ve never said that before. That’s not the word.
Jon: That’s a great word. Peopleizing.
Tim: I don’t even know-
Jon: Right up bewildered.
Tim: When I’m preparing people, I talk differently than when I’m preparing a sermon to preach to people.
Jon: If you don’t like it, turn it off.
Tim: Please turn it off.
Tim: Yeah, unsubscribe. But man, if you feel compelled to get in the comment section, just have context to me. Right? If you don’t like it, you don’t got to listen to it.
Jon: So how did that all start? Obviously the Lord led you, guided you to start that podcast, but what was that seed that grew into what we now see?
Tim: Dude, that seed was me sitting down with some two producers that are in their twenties and asking them, am I a opposer if I start a podcast? Will I be looked at the… Because I felt like when the Lord said, do a podcast, my response was, I’d rather throw a penny into the ocean. That was literally my response verbally.
Jon: Everybody in the planet has one, what’s the point.
Tim: I’m like, why? What’s the point? Who going to listen? And I don’t like doing stuff if it’s not going to be effective. Now, I don’t mean a hundred thousand people effective, but I’m like, I’m a Enneagram too I’m a helper, so I need to know why I’m helping. So they were like, we would just like to be in the same room with you. We don’t care. And so it was going to be 16 grand for three months, and they were going to cover everything, production, editing, social media, everything. And I’m like, man, I only had 18 grand in my general account. And I wrote that check by Faith and was like, I’m doing this. Shout out to my friend Chris Heaslip is my homie from New Zealand.
And he told me a week before I wrote the check, he said, I think you’re going to be the Joe Rogan of Christianity. And I was like, and I pay attention to compliments. This needs to be said. Your people need to hear this. So a lot of people pay attention to critiques. We all pay attention to it. You can have a hundred people that love and one and one. And you’re like, what did they do to you? How come you didn’t get it? Right? But we’re very seldom are we genuinely curious about compliments. We usually like, oh, thanks. And brush it off. But man, I’ve paid attention down through the years. I’ve paid attention to my compliments.
Jon: Let you know where to lean in.
Tim: Yeah. I remember somebody, a worship leader from Gateway, if I’m not mistaken, it was James Brown. His name’s really James Brown. Yeah. And James Brown-
Jon: I didn’t know James Brown was a worship leader at Gateway.
Tim: That would’ve been dope though. Michael Bethany would’ve been in trouble. He would’ve been. So James Brown, we’re we’re both at NRH and I do the transition service and the lights are going dim, the screens are about to warm up. And we’re walking off and he goes, bro, you are the Bill Cosby creature, present circumstances not included. Right.
Jon: Not that part.
Tim: Not that part. But he was basically talking about my storytelling. Well, I leaned into that, went home and watched everything Bill did. Everything he did from the first time he was on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964 all the way up to his last special with Comedy Central, which I believe was like, gosh, this might have been 2014, maybe 2012, 2013, somewhere around there. Dude. It was revolutionary for me.
I’m like, if this is something that you see, let me lean into that. Since then, I’ve been told You’re the Chappelle of what you do. Okay. I’ve already tracked with Chappelle and I’m like, well, if this dude’s a Muslim and he can do this, how come I can’t do this as a believer? So when this dude said to Joe Rogan, I paid attention to that. I’m like, what does he see that I don’t see? Because compliments usually shine light on stuff that you are operating in at a subconscious competence. Right. Subconscious competence. You can’t leverage it. That’s when somebody pays you a compliment and you’re like, what? It’s just who I am. Just who I am. Well then you can’t even capitalize on it. Right? The conscious competence is when you know what you’re doing, that’s when you’re the most effective.
That’s when you can be the most dangerous.
Jon: Take it and make it.
Tim: Take it and make it. When you know I know what I’m doing to you.
Jon: It’s intentional.
Tim: It’s intentional. That’s where the skill turns into mastery. I know what I’m doing here. I’m not like crossing my fingers, hoping, I hope this lands. You walk out going, I know exactly… I got to got you all, right. So I started to podcast with that curiosity could, if he sees this, maybe I should pay attention. But he was the one that seeded that thought. And that’s the last thing I heard before I signed that check. Now, the reason why I wanted to shout him out by name, and is probably embarrassing him greatly if he ever hears this, is because I wrote that check by Faith, which left me 2,000 in my LLC, the operating account.
And he was my first call. Very rarely would I call anybody beside Juliet first, but I decided to call him first. I’m like, bro, I just want you to know I wrote that check. He’s like, bro, I’m so hyped for you. I believe God’s going to do something amazing. He was like, how much with the check for? I was like, 16 grand. He was like, I’m writing you a check for 16 grand right now to replace the 16 grand you just wrote. He goes, and that’s for what, 90 days? I said, yeah. He goes, so through September, I said, yeah. He said, I’m going to write you another check for 16 grand in September. He was like, you know what? I’m going to just sponsor the podcast for the first two years. Talking about believing in somebody, fam. And so when obviously I wasn’t asking for none of that, but when that dude believed in it like that, I was like, okay, I’m out here.
We about to do this for real, for real. So it’s a new year, and I step into this new year having pushed all my chips to the middle of the table on this podcast. I don’t even know how that’s financially viable or anything. I really don’t. But I just really feel like, God, you put this in my hand before I left Embassy City. And then you put a magnifying glass on it almost to say like, hey, knucklehead don’t think this is a little pet thing that you do, and I want you running around all over the country. No, I want you to do this. And when you have some time, go be a blessing to where you came from, the church.
Jon: I love that thing you were talking about, the subconscious thing. When it becomes conscious, it’s like, I wonder if that’s what God was trying to get through to Gideon. I wonder if that’s what God was trying to get through to Moses at the burning bush. It’s like, hey idiot, I see something in you that you don’t even see in yourself.
Tim: Yeah, absolutely. Well, think about Luke 4. The spirit of the Lord is upon me for he has anointed me too. Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. Right. Jesus names five things. Right. The scroll is already open to Isaiah. That’s the reading for the day. Right. And then he rose up the scroll and sits down. This is either the most arrogant moment in Jesus’s earthly ministry, or it’s the most self-aware, consciously competent moment.
Jon: Yep. Yep.
Tim: He’s not like bragging. He rose up, the scroll sits down, there’s this awkward kind of like… And then he goes, what I just read to you has been fulfilled to you this very day. I’m telling you what I’m here to do because if I don’t know, I’m here to do this I’m going to meander and stumble into stuff and not even know. I’m setting the captives free right now. I’m opening up the blind. I know I’m opening up blinded eyes today. I wake up in the morning knowing one of these five things are going to happen today. So I get up in the morning and when I get up in the morning, I know I’m going to turn somebody’s world upside down with the message, love, and hope of Jesus Christ. That’s going to happen every day. I get out of the bed and leave my house. So when you’re consciously aware of that you start operating at a different level. Confidence with confidence.
Jon: So you can have people take… Like you were saying, I listen to compliments and help that take from the subconscious to the conscious. But scripture’s doing the same thing. Scripture is taking it from something we may do that we don’t realize we’re doing to. No, this is a fruit of the spirit.
Tim: That’s right. Yeah. That part. So that’s where I live there. I live there. I don’t-
Jon: Which comes through in your podcast, because we talked earlier about your confidence, call it blunt, call it whatever you want to call, but it is you coming to the table. No, I got not in an arrogant way, but with a weakness, with a boldness that comes from Christ saying this is who I am and this is what I got offered.
Tim: And I’ve been doing this for two… I’ve been preaching for 26 years. I know a little bit about that Bible. My mom would say that my mom’s been saved like 60 something years, which is cray cray. Like that’s crazy.
Jon: She’s what?
Tim: She’s been saved like 60 something years.
Jon: Wow. Okay.
Tim: And she always tells me… Now, let me tell you something, my mom, her gifts are bibles that she’s already read.
Jon: Oh, nice. Marked up.
Tim: My mom, anytime she gets a new Bible, she reads the whole thing straight through and puts a red check mark at every page that she’s read. Then she starts studying it.
Jon: That’s legit.
Tim: That’s freakish, right?
Jon: How do I get one of these?
Tim: It would be priceless if you got one bro. And you might be able to get one. Because she’s got a lot of them. With that said, she always tells me, son, what I know about scripture wouldn’t feel the eye of a needle.
Tim: So I know some stuff about the Bible and there’s a whole bunch of stuff I don’t know. But from what I do know, I draw from that whale to help the people he’s called me to reach. I’m not for everybody. I’m not supposed to reach everybody. That would be daunting. That would be debilitating. But for the people I’ve been called to reach, this is the cadence they need it in. They need me to talk to them like this. They’re not motivated another way, you need to be pampered. Find the pampering pastor. It ain’t me. You know what I’m saying? So it’s every joint supplies and every gift has its place and every voice has its audience, I’m leaning into mine.
Jon: Hey, thanks for listening. I pray that it blessed you and encouraged you and entertained you. One week from today, don’t miss it, we’re going to release the second episode of this chop up with Tim Ross. Like always, share this on social media, take a picture of your screenshot, put it on Instagram, Facebook, all of your platforms. Help her spread the word. Thanks again for listening. We’ll see you next week.