Chris Seay was the founding pastor of University Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, one of the earliest examples of generational church planting. He now pastors Ecclesia of Houston. Seay also loves HBO's The Sopranos and has written The Gospel According to Tony Soprano (Tarcher Putnam).
How did you come to the faith?
I'm a third-generation Baptist pastor, so I came to the faith quite naturally. But in the kind of churches my father and grandfather pastored, there weren't a lot of people who really cared about social justice and who were connected, kind, and loving people, which is what I saw in Christ, the epitome of real Christian love.
I also saw peers that were rejecting the church, and somehow I knew that if I were in ministry, it would be radically different. So the churches that I've started are very much connected with young people and artists.
How did you end up starting a church?
If my faith was going to be my own, I knew I had to venture out and find it. And in my university years I found that the reason that my peers were abandoning the church was because Christianity was more about Western ideals than it was about Christ. I had to ask, What is Christ really about? I ended up starting a church in Waco, Texas, with just a few people. Within six weeks the church was running over 600 people. It grew rapidly. Just people longing to connect to Christ in a creative way.
When I started that church, I knew that I wanted those who were being isolated outside of faith. We believe that artists are our current day preachers and storytellers, so we do things through visual art and film and literature that we couldn't do otherwise. We believe that that's the best way to tell the story of God.1