How we got connected to CTK
During our first year at Covenant Seminary in Saint Louis, my wife, Ally, and I began to think more seriously about the ministry context that we wanted to serve in. We knew we were interested in serving in an urban, secular city, though not sure about what that might practically look like for us. In the fall of 2014, we met Bob Sawyer, the director of the Christ the King Church planting center, at a ministry lunch he hosted at Covenant. Hearing about Christ the King’s “multi-congregational” church planting approach in Boston, piqued our interest in possibility of serving in Boston. After participating in the Mission to North America Church Planter Readiness Seminar, we began to consider summer church planting internships, and we resumed our conversation with Bob. In the summer of 2014, we came up to Boston for our first of three summer church planting internships with Christ the King.
Why Boston and CTK?
Boston is in many ways a beautiful, historic, and culturally vibrant city. The city has become a global leader in education, medicine, technology, and finance. Boston hosts several hundred thousand university students each year, and has also become remarkably diverse, with waves new immigrants coming to Boston from all over the world. While Boston remains a thriving global city, my summer internships have confirmed for me that it is also a city in deep need of gospel renewal. According to Pew Research, the Boston area has one of the highest percentages of “nones" (those with no religious affiliation) in the country. Moreover, Massachusetts was recently ranked by Pew as tied with neighboring New Hampshire for the least religious state in the US. There is a clear need for robust, gospel-centered churches in Greater Boston, and we have been honored to join Christ the King in its efforts to expand the Kingdom in a spiritually challenging place.
Our summer internships have given us a deep love for Boston and Greater New England, as well as a vision for future church planting. During my first summer internship, we explored and experienced the city, worshipped with the different congregations of CTK, got to know several CTK church planters, and experienced in small doses the various ministries of CTK. The summer internships also gave me a concrete context to think about as I wrestled with how the more abstract aspects of a theological education apply to on the ground in ministry. Throughout our summer internships the Lord continued to affirm our sense of call to New England. I am now serving as a church planting apprentice with Christ the King, Somerville, where I both serve as an assistant pastor at one of the existing CTK congregations, while receiving beneficial mentoring and training for pastoring and church planting in the future.
Just to highlight one ministry I have focused on since coming to Boston: I have become very involved with “Think and Drink” in my time serving with CTK. Think and Drink is an outreach discussion event that we host twice a month in Somerville. Think and Drink involves getting together with about a dozen people at a local bar, most of whom are non-Christians, to discuss topics that are relevant to the wider culture. Think and Drink has been an excellent way for me to learn the culture of Somerville, build relationships with non-Christians, and engage people outside the church in meaningful conversation. This falls into the category of “contact work” for me (for folks familiar with Young Life), or what Tim Keller calls “pre-evangelism.” In the past several months, we have covered topics ranging from climate change to perfectionism. I’ve also had the opportunity in the past few months to stick around after a few Think and Drinks to discuss Christianity and religious belief with some non-Christians that were intrigued by the fact that I am on staff with a church.
Who should do a summer internship?
The summer internship is an excellent way for seminary students interested in urban ministry to get a feel for a major urban area that is highly secular, diverse, and in significant need of effective gospel ministry. It will give you the opportunity to enjoy the city and to meet people “on the ground”, that are engaged on a daily basis with the particular joys and challenges that come with ministry in Greater Boston. Moreover, the church planting center is committed to getting to know you and your ministry gifts, and working with you to help further develop your sense of calling to ministry. My wife and I found the church planting internship (and now apprenticeship) to be immensely helpful for us, both as we further engage in urban ministry in the present and further prepare for the prospect of church planting in the future.
Josh and Ally Henderson live in Somerville, where Josh is serving as a church planting apprentice with CTK Somerville. They both attended Covenant Theological Seminary, where Josh earned a Master of Divinity and Ally a Master of Arts in Counseling. In June of 2018, they welcomed their first child, Timothy.