It is exciting to look around the country and see former CTKers serving the church. John Meinen served as an intern at CTK Newton and is currently a campus minister at the University of Vermont. Here is his story…
When I enrolled at Gordon-Conwell in the summer of 2008, I had no intention of going into pastoral ministry. I had just become a Christian, and I was hungry and thirsty to learn more. I didn’t want to drink from the water fountain—I wanted to drink from the fire hose. I wanted to make up for lost time. I wanted to sell everything to buy the field and its buried treasure. Going to seminary was for me. Or so I thought.
Before moving to Massachusetts, a friend/mentor recommended I worship at CTK Cambridge: “My son studies at Tufts and worships at CTK. You should check it out.” So, I did. The first Sunday I visited CTK, there happened to be a church-wide picnic following the service at a nearby park. At the picnic I met a bunch of other twenty-somethings who worshipped at CTK and were also Gordon-Conwell students. I immediately got plugged into a small group on the North Shore and made CTK my new church home.
In order to graduate with the M.Div. degree, one has to complete semesters of mentored ministry. I decided early on that I wanted to be mentored by Rev. Bradley Barnes. I had heard him preach at CTK Cambridge a few times before, and I heard through the grapevine that he was leaving RUF at Harvard to plant a church in Newton. I asked him if he would be interested in taking on an intern. I did not want to be a church planter. I did not want to be a campus minister. But I did want to be near Bradley. Some things are taught, other things are caught. Bradley might say, “If you need to cool off, stand next to a wet dog.” However you slice it (or say it), I simply wanted to “catch” some of the goodness that Bradley has got—namely, his infectious love for Jesus, an intimate prayer life, and (if I was to be so blessed) his ability to make even the smallest person feel seen, known, and loved.
As an intern, my responsibilities were to attend the weekly, Wednesday prayer meetings and to lead a Bible study with some students at Boston College. In the beginning I stammered through prayer and I stumbled through Bible studies. But God used both to mold and guide me. I “caught” prayer at those Wednesday morning meetings, and I “caught” a vision for life post-seminary. My wife Megan and I fell in love with the college students we got to minister to, and we fell more in love with New England. Perhaps God was calling us to campus ministry in the region?
When I graduated from Gordon-Conwell in 2012, there were no college ministry opportunities in the Boston area at the time; however, the Northern New England Presbytery (PCA) was looking for someone to plant a new RUF chapter at the University of Vermont (UVM). Megan and I indicated our interest and—long story, short—were called to Burlington, VT shortly thereafter.
Students in the least-religious and lest-churched city in America are now encountering Jesus where they least expect to find (be found by) him. This is happening thanks to the mentoring, prayerfulness, and generosity of CTK and its people. I cannot fully state the role CTK, Bradley and Meda Barnes, and the Newton congregation has had on me, my family, and the students we serve. Instead, let me say “thanks.” Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.