The CBE Scroll presents “Learning to Thrive”, a five-part series that will feature stories from members of CBE’s “Thrive” Chapter at Biola University in Southern California. We hope this will serve as an encouragement to all of you and deepen your understanding of the true meaning of the Gospel! Today we will hear from Christa McKirland, who leads the chapter.
I grew up in a Southern Baptist mega-church in Georgia where my dad served, and still serves, as an associate pastor. My mom, an attorney, has served alongside him my entire life. At a very young age I had a clear sense of God’s love and desired a relationship with him. I began asking questions about how to do this when I was four years old. When I was six, I decided to trust Jesus with my life as best as my little mind and heart knew how. This began my journey as a minister of reconciliation, priest of the New Covenant, and Spirit-gifted saint.
The most telling early sign of my specific gifting and calling can be found in one of my children’s devotionals from when I was nine. One of the activities was to create a Christian club and talk through who would do what…when I got to myself, it says, “preach.”
Little did I know that little girls, let alone grown women, were “not allowed” to do this.
Fortunately for me, both my parents always taught me that you do whatever God calls you to do and he would equip me for whatever he desired me to accomplish for his sake. Unfortunately for me, my entire Christian sub-culture would not encourage my gifting and my calling, and, for a time, I would listen to this voice instead of the Spirit within me.
While I was a freshman at the University of Georgia I began volunteering at a rural Southern Baptist church and teaching a small group of middle school girls. My love for God’s word and for them to know it and be defined by it dominated our time together. Over the next couple of years, I was able to teach the larger youth group and eventually became the youth pastor at this church (though never given this title).
While on staff I had to grapple with my gifting and the inconsistency of how I was allowed to share this with the larger body. Faced with this discrepancy, I came before the Scriptures and vowed to the Lord, “Whatever your word teaches, I will surrender to it.” I began to dive into the word and read different books on this subject and was amazed to find that the Bible did support my walking fully in my gifts to any audience. While my experience didn’t dictate how I understood the Scriptures, my experiences finally made sense through the lens of the Scriptures.
In a desire to study this even more fully, as well as the whole of Scripture, my husband and I moved out to Southern California to attend Talbot so we could understand the original languages and be as faithful as possible to the text. Now, five years later, here we are, more committed than ever to the authority of God’s word and the message of humility, love, and freedom that colors every page.