What does Cambridge, MA have to do with Kerrville, TX? As someone with Texas roots who lived most of his adult life in Massachusetts, for a long time I would have said “not much.” But now having served in both places and having had that question put to me on more than one occasion, I would say “more than you might think.”
We left Christ the King in 2012, after having been on staff there for six years and members for sixteen years. In those years, we saw the church grow in both size and spirit. We recall our years there with great affection, growing in the gospel together, raising our children together, enjoying deepening friendships, making new friends, regularly saying goodbye to old friends. Years of early morning prayer meetings, community group fellowship, Sunday morning worship services, parties, and lively staff meetings continue to nourish and shape us all these years later.
In mid-2011, it became clear to my wife, Kit and me that the Lord was stirring our hearts to serve in some kind of different capacity than the one we had at the time. Given our deep affection for and connection to Boston, it seemed that something in or around the Hub would make sense.
It’s hard to overstate how wonderfully supportive the Session at CTK was to us in this time of discernment. They supported us in discerning our calling personally and pastorally, and also by sending us to the PCA Church Planting Assessment Center, where uncertain as to what the outcome would be going in, we emerged with a recommendation to plant a church. The way forward from there seemed simple enough. Go back to Boston, pick a spot, and get going. After all, my office was right next to the Director for Church Planting!
And yet, as we sought counsel, talked, and prayed, something surprising happened, which to this day remains difficult to describe. It seemed that God was closing this door to us. There were opportunities, and yet, the calling was not there.
This was taking shape to become what felt to us like a curious calling. Although my roots are in Texas, I had not lived here full time since I was 18 years old. Having lived nearly all my life in and around big cities (Houston, San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston), coming to a small town on the edge of the desert didn’t seem like a “good fit.” On top of that, we dearly loved Boston, a place we adopted as our home, the place where all of our children were born, and where over the years we had become deeply invested.
Yet over the course of time, God used a funeral, a wedding, and weeping to call us to plant a church in Texas. In 2011, my grandfather died and I performed the funeral. He lived in a small town in Texas, not too far from where we live now, and in the time with family and friends following the funeral, I noticed something striking. I continued to have conversations with people who told me how struck they were by how I led the funeral. It seemed different to them, unlike what they had heard before. What was so striking to them? The simple fact that I preached the gospel. I came back to Boston, mentioned to Kit that Texas might be more of a mission field than we thought a Bible Belt state could be, and didn’t think much more about it for a while.
In January of 2012, around the time that we sensed that God was closing the door to planting a church in Boston, I came back to Texas. This time to officiate a cousin’s wedding, again, not too far from where we live now. The day after the wedding, New Year’s Day, I sat in the lobby of the Gunther Hotel in downtown San Antonio and realized that I had time to go to worship before getting my flight back to Boston. I decided to attend Redeemer Presbyterian, because it was the closest.
After the service, I headed out the door and was greeted by their pastor, Tom Gibbs. Tom asked me what brought me to town, and we got to chatting about mutual friends, and where I was currently serving. I mentioned that we had just been to church planting assessment in November and were trying to discern what was next. Tom then said, “Look, I don’t even know you, but we’re looking for a church planter for Kerrville.”
This was no a lightning bolt moment, but we had been praying for open doors, and felt compelled to walk through this one. This conversation led to more conversations, and then to a trip to Dallas to meet with the incredible Southwest Church Planting Network folks, so that after much prayer, we decided to accept the call to plant the Christ Church Kerrville.
We left Boston with tears in our eyes, leaving the people who had blessed us beyond measure, and the place we still dearly love as our “home.” We arrived in Kerrville with a small group of folks eager to get going with a new work, and since then the Lord has been gracious to grow what began as a church with a dozen folks to a fellowship of now over one hundred. God has been gracious to continue to open doors for us here as we seek to proclaim the gospel, and He has graciously sustained us at every step.
After six years of outreach and ministry, Christ Church Kerrville "particularized" on June 3. This was a very exciting step for us as we ordained our own leadership and began a new phase of ministry in this place to which God has called us to minister.
The support of Christ the King cannot be underestimated in this work. It will be 22 years this summer since we first came to Christ the King, and we are so grateful to say that in all that time, the care and support of this dear church has continued unabated.
What has Kerrville got to do with Cambridge? Both places are needful of the gospel, and in both places, God has shown Himself faithful to do beyond what we could ever ask or even imagine in advancing His Kingdom, to the glory of His name, and for the good of the city.