Boston is a long way from Sydney, Australia. When Alison and I moved here in 2015, we were hoping God would use the experience to prepare us for gospel ministry, wherever he called us. I’d come out of a downtown church and felt passionate about ministering in a post-Christian, urban context. We wanted to do our seminary training in a place that would equip us for ministry in cities like Sydney, while forcing us to grow in our ability to adapt to different cultural settings. So, we came to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and to the Boston-area.
As far as secular, post-Christian contexts go, there are few places more ideal than the Northeast for becoming conversant with the hopes, dreams, anxieties, fears, stories, and idols that drive people who typically have little interest in Christianity. And while you’ll find that all over New England, Boston also brings the challenges and complexities of being a major city. Planting and growing churches in Boston isn’t easy: the work is slow, and it quickly reveals your limitations and need to depend on God. And yet, it’s not the kind of God-forsaken place some people imagine: people are coming to faith, churches are being revitalized, and those who follow Jesus often hold their Christian commitments with deep conviction. We’ve been encouraged.
As part of my seminary training, I was able to undertake an internship at CTK Dorchester with Omar Ortiz and the Church Planting Center. That internship gave me a window into the PCA in New England, and into the kinds of capacities I needed to develop further to plant in a context like this. I had opportunities to preach and teach, to equip lay leaders, and to disciple men of vastly different backgrounds in a small group setting. Working with Omar, I was encouraged to grow my leadership gifts and intercultural competence for ministry. One of the great strengths of the internship was the ability to tailor it to my specific interests and needs, rather than a ‘one-size fits all’ package.
My family is about to leave Boston to return to Sydney, where I’ll be planting a new congregation in a neighborhood about 4 miles from the city center. To be honest, planting wasn’t something I anticipated doing, at least not straight out of seminary. The Lord has used the experience at CTK, among others, to prepare us for this new call. We’re sad to leave a city we love, but we’re grateful for the way our time here has equipped us to reach secular people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
A CTK seminary internship is ideal for those who want to explore ministry in urban, secular contexts. It will expose you to planting and the breadth of skills you need to be a pastor. It will develop your vision for places you might not have imagined serving Jesus, even if he ultimately takes you back to where you started.