For Matt Osgood, it has always been about the local church. “At heart, I’m a local church guy,” he says. “I believe the local church is the frontlines of the Great Commission.” So you may wonder why, after pastoring for nine years at the same church his wife grew up in, he decided to pack up their life in Maine and head south to the lone star state.
“About 2013, I heard the Lord say two things. One, that our season in Maine was coming to an end, and two, ‘Go back to school,’” Matt explained. That was the critical call, but it quickly became evident that the Lord had been orchestrating this move long before Matt knew anything of The King’s University or Gateway Church. In fact, his first move down to Texas was after high school, as a student at Christ for the Nations Institute. There he got to hear about The King’s University and how CFNI credits would transfer over. Unsure whether he would continue his education at that time, Matt simply tucked that information away.
A semester before graduating CFNI, Matt married his high school sweetheart, Alicia, and together they decided to take their next step in ministry, participating in Discipleship Training School with Youth With A Mission in Colorado Springs. After completing the program, they went back to Maine with a vision to start an internship program with the local church modeled after what they had experienced in YWAM.
Seven years, three kids, and loads of ministry experience later, their vision came to fruition in an internship program they called The 360 Experience. “The heartbeat was actually very, very similar to The King’s, because it was like combining the local church and YWAM. It was all things that were strengths of YWAM’s in the discipleship side combined with the local church experience,” Matt says.
It seemed as if they were exactly where God wanted them to be, but just two years in to leading The 360 Experience came the word—leave Maine and go back to school. Bringing back to mind his transferrable credits from CFNI, and knowing he wanted the convenience of online courses, Matt applied to TKU and began taking classes online in spring 2014. About the same time, he decided to go back on staff with YWAM and moved down to the Dallas/Fort Worth area in February to help launch The 360 Experience at other churches. Unbeknownst to Matt, TKU was moving to Texas too, and Southlake became the main campus that same year. Living and working just down the road from TKU’s main campus, Matt started taking classes on-ground. Talk about a real life “360 Experience”!
He also hesitantly signed up for his pastoral practicum. Nervous he would be tasked with stapling, filing and making coffee after years of full-time pastoral ministry, he did everything he could to get out of it. But the Lord had a plan. Matt started his practicum at Gateway Church with Pastor Rick Mauderer.
He quickly realized that his practicum really wasn’t about volunteering and folding letters. “It was a look under the hood at what Gateway was doing and the opportunity to meet with leaders that most people just wouldn’t have,” he says. He was able to gain insight, and through the quality time he spent with the leaders who demonstrate the heart of Gateway practically, he gained the culture. “It’s impossible to gain that culture without being in it and around it, and hearing from the people. And so you catch it more than it’s taught,” he continues.
But there was even more. As Matt became more involved with Gateway church through his practicum, he was connected to Todd Bolt, pastor of global outreach. Matt started volunteering in outreach at Pastor Todd’s campus, even taking on leadership for certain projects. At the same time, the need for his role with YWAM was diminishing, and once again the Lord was moving. Pastor Todd offered him a position on staff at Gateway, which he started a year after moving to Texas (to the day).
Matt serves as the men’s and local outreach pastor at Gateway’s North Fort Worth campus and has the opportunity to meet with students in the men’s ministry practicum. Now he gets to give them a “look under the hood.” With just two more courses to go, he plans to officially graduate in December and will continue ministering at the North Fort Worth campus. He also hopes to go on for his master’s degree, but he’s in no rush.
“It’s not just about a paper on a wall,” he says. “The education has definitely undergirded everything I’ve done in ministry. There’s no doubt. But it’s not the paper on the wall, it’s the education.” So he’s looking for the same thing he’s been pursuing all along: “Something that’s not just an exercise in intellect, but will really help further me and push me forward in my ability to minister to people, my ability to lead in the local church.”