Our Staff

Chris Woolard

Lead Pastor
Chris has served in Churches in NC and VA as a youth minister and worship leader since 2001. He and his family moved to Wilmington in 2012 to start Venture Church.
He received a BA in Bible and Theology at Mid-Atlantic Christian University and an MA in New Testament with a focus on Preaching from Johnson University. It was a clear calling from God that shifted Chris from a decade of youth ministry to new church work and He is excited to serve as a missionary to the city of Wilmington!
Chris is the primary teacher at Venture. You can learn more about Chris here or listen to one of his weekly messages here.


Aaron Collins

Music and Creative Arts Pastor
Aaron has a passion for leading people to God through music. He has served in college ministries in Greenville, NC and has lead music in churches and through various events in North Carolina. In 2011 he completed a leadership residency in worship ministry at One Life Church in Concord, NC. He moved to Wilmington to help make the Sunday gatherings awesome and build community through music! In addition to all this, Aaron leads a small group for young adults. Aaron and his wife Kara love to serve the city of Wilmington together and lead others to the love of Jesus.

Emelie Myers

Emelie and her family moved to Wilmington from Greenville NC to help start Venture Church. She and her husband Brent were instrumental in the original church planting team and both continue to work behind the scenes in virtually every aspect of our church. Emelie’s main role is dealing with the administrative aspects of the church. She also spearheads most of the women’s events, and our community outreach services. Since hurricane Florence, Emelie has also become Volunteer and Site Coordinator of our sister organization “D.A.R.T.-ILM“, a hurricane relief organization co-founded by Venture Church.

Melanie Smallwood

Children’s Director
Melanie and her husband Brandon moved to Wilmington from Kentucky for Brandon’s job. They found Venture Church when we were less than a year old and immediately invested in our church family. For several years Melanie served as a volunteer teacher with Venture Kids. In 2018 she took on the role of Children’s Director.  Melanie has worked with children at churches for many years, both behind the scenes and as a leader. She’s got a passion for seeing our kids grow in their faith, giving them opportunities to serve, and become the next generation of God Chasers.

Maria Collins

Maria moved to Wilmington just as Venture Church was getting off the ground and immediately plugged in as a volunteer in a variety of areas. Her passion for helping disciple ladies and empower the church to reach our community have been a driving force since the day she arrived. She has served as a Venture Kid’s teacher, works with the production team at the tech table, and sings with the praise band. Her (adult) children are both very involved in the church family, including the cool fact that her son Aaron helped plant the church! One of Maria’s many skills is the all-important talent of book keeping. Financial integrity and transparency have always been very important at Venture Church. In the early years we hired an outside agency to manage those important details. In 2018 Maria took on the role in an official capacity.