After graduating from a now-defunct small Bible college in Louisiana, Tyson M. Coughlin felt the Lord directing him to North Carolina’s most populous city, where he knew no one.
The high-energy extrovert started a Bible study at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte called C4 — Called, Connect, Catalyst, and Compassion — with only two students. Within a couple of years, C4 grew to the largest organization on campus, drawing more than 300 weekly attendees. In 2002, at the age of 25, Coughlin planted Vizion Church in uptown Charlotte with 100 young people who had been a part of the study.
Vizion purchased a former Presbyterian urban church building that has since been renovated to blend traditional architecture with contemporary. Currently, nearly 800 adherents attend three services. The median age is 30, Coughlin says. The church has doubled in size since April 2021.
Coughlin, who stands 6 feet, 5 inches tall, initially went to a Division 2 college in West Virginia on a basketball scholarship. But he gave that up to attend Bible college, thinking at the time that the Lord wanted him to become an evangelist. But once he finished his education, Coughlin says he felt the Lord telling him not only to make converts, but to follow up with them.
“Our mission at Vizion Church is simple: win souls, make disciples,” Coughlin says. The church offers an intense 5-week discipleship course that explains why the Bible is an inspired text. Connect groups also are a vital reason for the church growth, Coughlin maintains.
“We teach the 16 fundamental truths of the AG, and we teach people why they can trust in the foundational truths of Christianity,” Coughlin says. “It’s an interactive course designed to embrace their curiosity. We don’t shy away from difficult questions.”
The church’s YouTube channel has over 7,000 subscribers.
Vizion also is testing a micro group concept, in which each elder mentors three disciples over a year. Those sets of three disciples will pour into another trio after their training is complete.
The church name incorporates a Hebrew reference.
“Zion is the dwelling place between God and His people,” Coughlin says. “We want to carry a vision to see Charlotte come to Christ.”
While still a toddler, Coughlin’s parents divorced. At 13, he went to a Pentecostal church in his native West Virginia with his stepmother and heard the Word of God preached. Coughlin decided to follow Jesus and sensed a call to ministry.
By 14, Coughlin had succeeded his elderly aunt preaching monthly at a nursing home. Although one of his parents had to drive him, Coughlin didn’t want to allow the nursing home ministry to wither.
In 2018, Coughlin wed his petite Ukrainian-born wife, Kristina. They couple met through Instagram when Tyson was 31, a decade older than Kristina. Kristina immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 1. The couple have a 1-year-old son, Pierce.
Coughlin is a coach for the Assemblies of God Church Multiplication Network and he knows the importance of linking with like-minded ministers. Before his ordination with the AG, Coughlin tried to launch a church autonomously.
“I felt isolated,” Coughlin remembers. “There was no way I could succeed before I connected with the networks in the Assemblies of God, where I’ve been encouraged so many times.”
Vizion has seven full-time staff members. Discipleship director Matt Kusak and his wife, Kat, are preparing to launch a parent-affiliated campus of Vizion Sept. 18 in east Charlotte. Edifi — which stands for excellence, discipleship, inspiration, faith, and immersion — will focus on reaching millennials and Gen Zers. The Kusaks are bilingual, speaking English and Spanish.
“Tyson is really passionate about the gospel,” says Kusak, 30. “He aspires to preach Jesus and really wants to live out the Great Commission.”