Meet Randy Chestnut, Executive Director of the Life Enrichment Center

Randy knows first-hand the challenges many of the Life Enrichment Centers neighbors face.

A native of Dayton, Randys father struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction, which eventually led to his parents divorce. Randys mom had to raise four boys on her own from the time Randy, the oldest, was twelve. Soon the family was receiving government assistance. His familys poverty became a motivator for Randy.

In high school, Randy excelled in athletics and academics. He began dating the former Denise Deck. During their Senior year, Randy started to attend church with Denise and her family. After graduation, Randy began an ElectriciansApprenticeship through the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, LU #82 in Dayton. In March of 1979, Denise and Randy were married at the North Dayton Baptist Church. One month later he committed his life to following Jesus Christ. God blessed Randy and Denise with a son, Luke, and a daughter, Sarah.

Sensing a call to vocational ministry, Randy moved the family to Pineville, KY in the summer of 1986 where he enrolled at Clear Creek Baptist Bible College. He graduated with honors in 1990.

In 1993, the Chestnut family returned to Ohio where Randy accepted the call to pastor the North Dayton Baptist Church, the same church where he and Denise were married fourteen years earlier. Randy would serve as NDBCs pastor for the next ten years. It was during this time that Randy immersed himself in learning all he could about urban ministry.

In 2003, Randy was called to be the Director of Missions for the Greater Cleveland Baptist Association. In 2004, Cleveland was named a Strategic Focus City by the Southern Baptist Convention, creating an initiative named Cleveland Hope. In addition to his role as Director of Missions, Randy also served as the Church Planting Partnership Development Director for Cleveland Hope. Between 2005-2008, Cleveland Hope planted twelve churches and mobilized over 8,000 volunteers from 32 different states across the USA. During the final year of the Cleveland Hope initiative, Randy served as Executive Director, overseeing a staff of fourteen people and managing a $1M budget.

Randy says of his time in Cleveland, “I had the opportunity to travel across the country and learn from some of the greatest thought leaders and practitioners in City Transformation work. From New York City to Orlando, Dallas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles… I was able to see God at work through collaborative partnerships between the faith community, business, government, and education sectors. This education was PRICELESS!”

Upon returning to Dayton in 2010, Randy and Denise, launched Hope Community, a ministry in Old North Dayton with a focus on reaching urban youth and engaging the refugee/immigrant population with the Gospel. In late 2011, Randy was invited to speak at a Missions Conference at Fairhaven Church. Leaders from Apex Community Church were present and struck up a conversation about urban ministry with Randy. 

Two ministries grew out of this connection. First, Randy began to serve as an Urban Engagement Consultant for Apex Community Church. Second, Randy worked with Apex Missions Elders, Mark Withers and Jim Schindler, on searching for models related to City Transformation. In 2015, Jim, Mark, and Randy became the founding directors of the Miami Valley Leadership Foundation (MVLF), modeled on successful work that Mark’s father, John Withers, had done in Lexington, Kentucky. MVLF partner churches, businesses, and other volunteers are currently mentoring 350+ at-risk youth in the Greater Dayton region. MVLF also launched a scalable city transformation initiative, Hope4Communities. As of early 2022, there are seven Hope4Communities in the Miami Valley.

In late Fall of 2021, the Life Enrichment Center Board of Directors unanimously voted to call Randy Chestnut as their next Executive Director. Of this call, Randy says, “I believe God has been preparing me for this assignment all my life! The Lord has assembled a tremendous team… staff, volunteers, and ministry champions at the Life Enrichment Center. I am thrilled and humbled at the goodness of God for giving me this opportunity.”

What others say about Randy:

“When it comes to mobilizing leaders in the Body of Christ for community impact, I can think of no one better equipped than Randy Chestnut.”
Dr. Glenn Barth
Author and President of Good Cities”
Minneapolis, MN

“Randy’s leadership is informed by vision, coupled with a practitioner’s experience and insight.  This combination provides a winning formula for community impact.”
Dr. Reggie McNeal
Author of “Missional Renaissance” and “Kingdom Collaborators”
City Coach with “Good Cities”
Columbia, South Carolina

“For the many years that I’ve known Randy, I couldn’t think of a better person to lead an organization committed to the holistic flourishing of every person in the greater Dayton area. His character, leadership, intellect, and kindness position him to love well and lead Life Enrichment Center into a great future.”
Dr. Eric Swanson
City Networks Convener
Author of “The Externally-Focused Quest” and “To Transform a City”
Longmont, CO

Randy has been a champion for collaboration in the body of Christ for the blessing of the people of Dayton and the Miami Valley for many years. It has been an honor to learn from him, and I believe God has called him in this season in this strategic and Spirit-filled servant leadership of the Life Enrichment Center!”
Caleb Ingram
Executive Director, Declare Dayton
Dayton, OH