All-Church Gatherings: A Glimpse into the Unity and Uniqueness of CTK/Grace Congregations

Looking back now on the day I first joined the work of Christ the King Boston, it seems random. The father of a friend of mine in Birmingham, where I was for seminary, had planted a church in New England. I didn’t know this man well, but he connected me to Rick Downs and Bob Sawyer and Logan Keck, who had just begun work church planting in JP/Roxbury. So, having never been to Boston, I arrived on the first of June 2012, in my compact car full of the possessions I needed for a summer, to do an internship with a CTK JP/Roxbury congregation that did not yet exist. 

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Now, six years later (almost to the day) from when I first arrived in Boston for that summer internship, my family and I will move to our new house in Quincy, where we have been called to plant a new congregation of CTK. This church planting work will utilize all of our experiences from the day I first arrived in Boston. The seemingly random has proven to be God’s providence, as is often the case, but only in hindsight. Since then, I have met and married my wonderful wife Naomi, and last summer, we welcomed to the world our adorable son, Liam. We have discerned, through our time at CTK these last several years, that the Lord is calling us to remain in the Boston area and plant a church in Quincy. He has opened the doors for us to live and serve the city for years to come.  

As I was reflecting on the story of God preparing me to plant a new congregation of CTK over the last six years, I realized it involves almost every congregation of CTK in some way. During that summer internship in the early days of the JP/Roxbury church plant, God opened me up to the possibility of returning to Boston long term. A year later, after finishing seminary, in the fall of 2013, I joined Pastor David Richter in the church planting work that had recently begun in Somerville. For several months after I first arrived in Somerville, I attended CTK Cambridge. I was ordained as the Assistant Pastor of CTK Somerville in the fall of 2014, in which capacity I have served for the last several years, and through which I’ve learned and grown in my understanding and love for the Lord, His Church and our mission in the city. In that time, I have also been fortunate to get a glimpse of each congregation of CTK, as each seeks to serve its city/neighborhood in unique, contextual and faithful ways. I have had the opportunity to visit every CTK congregation (except the brand new Northern Suburbs congregation) and preach at most of them. I have always greatly benefited from knowing and learning from the pastors, staff, elders and members of CTK across the various congregations.

I recognize that most of the members of CTK naturally experience CTK only through the lens of their own local congregation. But every so often, through all-church worship gatherings and picnics, we all have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the larger CTK church, and so observe the uniqueness of each CTK congregation. 

C.S. Lewis, in his chapter on Friendship in The Four Loves, writes that friendship often arises when two or more people discover a common insight or interest that each believed to be his own unique treasure. Lewis writes, “The typical expression of opening friendship would be something like, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.’”

This is a bit how it is meeting someone from another congregation of CTK. There exists a common bond that is present even when the people are unaware of it. Not only are the members of CTK united under “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5), but we are members of the same local church, sitting under the preaching of the same part of God’s Word on a given Sunday. In our own congregations, we are all seeking, in various ways, to be a church for the city, shaped by the same gospel.

Matt Owens is the assistant pastor at CTK Somerville. He will begin church planting efforts in Quincy this Fall. He can be reached at mattowens@ctksomerville.org. 

*Matt was recently interviewed in the Beeson Divinity School alumni magazine about church planting. You can read that interview here on page 18.

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