Thursday, August 22, 2013

Chris Gray: Engineer, Pastor

I had an interesting conversation the other day with a guy who was doing some maintenance work on our building. He asked me what I did for a living, and I gave an answer that he had never heard someone give. I told him that I was an engineer…. and a pastor.

His face cracked a curious grin and gave away his thoughts immediately: “that’s an unusual combination.”

“Yes it is,” I smiled in reply. Yes it is.

This time last year, my answer would have been one-sided- I am an engineer. After all, that’s what I’ve spent the last 10 years doing, designing and leading all kinds of land development projects all over the Oklahoma City area and beyond. But along the way it became very clear to me that I would not always be an engineer. At least not in the land development field.

My Calling

Seven years ago I was a volunteer serving as a small groups leader in my church. One day, I was sitting around the table with one of my church’s associate pastors, strategizing about the next best way to help people join small groups and grow in their faith. As we were talking, he made a comment that I’ll never forget, that went something like this...

You know Chris, one day, God might call you to use your engineering abilities in a different way. Perhaps God is calling you, not to solve land development challenges, but spiritual ministry challenges so that more people could meet and follow Jesus.

As soon as the words came out of his mouth, I knew they were true. I had about 10 years of ministry experience at that point in time, from leading a student ministry in college to leading small groups in my church. In all that experience, God was developing in me a growing passion to help people meet the Jesus of the bible and to help equip them to do every good work that God has called them to do.

In spite of my growing passion for Jesus and His Church, I had no clear indication at that time that God wanted me to go to seminary or to become a pastor right away. Instead, I found out, my assignment for the next seven years was to remain an engineer. Much could be said of that time, but suffice it to say, it was a time of refining, a time of developing, a time of waiting.


But God doesn’t call us to wait forever. About 6 months ago, I was welcomed on the team of a new church that is being planted here in Edmond, Oklahoma called Redemption Church ( Redemption Church, lead by pastor Jeff Lawrence, is a part of the Acts 29 Network ( which is a network of churches that plants churches that plant churches. I will serve as the Executive Pastor for the church, using my repurposed engineering abilities to develop and administer initiatives that help people grow to become authentic disciples of Jesus. To say that I am excited about this is a gross understatement!

The video below shares more details about our story. In it, you will hear my wife’s response, as well as hear from Jeff Lawrence about why he moved his family over 1,200 miles to come back home to plant and pastor this church.

In Transition

So, I am currently both an engineer and a pastor, but I know this ministry needs my undivided attention. I am grateful that my engineering profession allows me some flexibility in this transition, but I have a sense of urgency about the work God is calling me to do for the people of Edmond and the Oklahoma City area. Here's a post that Jeff wrote that explains this urgency:

It typically takes 3-5 years for new churches to get started, and it takes outside support during those years for the church to get to that point. While some of the outside support comes from other churches, the vast majority of financial support for church plants comes from individuals, like you. My family and I are incredibly grateful to those who have already stepped up to offer financial support to help us make this transition. We are asking you to consider partnering with us in one of three ways: 

  1. A monthly gift
  2. An annual gift
  3. A one-time donation
We know that people may already give to their church and to other missions. We simply want to make known how great the need is for more churches, right here in the Edmond/OKC metro area, and how like minded believers can partner for many people to experience redemption in Jesus.
We are so excited and hopeful for what God will do through launching Redemption Church as another outpost for the Gospel and the Great Commission, but can't do it without your help. It will literally take hundreds of people pitching in- great or small amounts- to make this church a reality.
Will you partner with us to make Redemption happen?