Planting As A Team: The Bertrams

We moved to Fort Worth twelve years ago—shortly after graduating college. Tara, my wife, had a job at Cook Children's and I began teaching in south Dallas. Newly married, first ‘real-world’ jobs and based on a recommendation from Tara’s prior pastor, we were quickly involved in a local church. Five years in, we had made wonderful friendships and were shepherded by a loving pastor, but felt something lacking in our faith. During this time, I became increasingly interested in the Emergent Movement – an imbalanced paradigm of “soft” biblical teaching and strong emphasis on social justice - poverty, race relations, immigration etc. I read every book I could get my hands on and argued with anything that moved. As I delved deeper into Emergent Christianity, I found ways to minimize and downright reject central doctrines of the Bible. Sin was pushed to the back burner, as thoughts of helping and pursuing the poor were pushed to the forefront of our minds and hearts. Because of this, self-righteousness, self-reliance, and self-centeredness became sovereign. After five years at our first church as a married couple, we left bitter and angry. 

"Sin was pushed to the back burner...self-righteousness, self-reliance, and self-centeredness became sovereign."

The next three years were filled with church-hopping and unloving leadership towards my wife. In every church we visited and attended for a short time, we never found community.  We didn’t know anyone and we weren’t known by anyone. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment, but God tenderly began to soften my hardened heart. We were expecting our first child in 9 short months and knew that we needed biblical community. God patiently pursued Tara and I, and we ended up at The Paradox three weeks before our due date.

"...but God tenderly began to soften my hardened heart."

Since our first visit at The Paradox Church over 3 and a half years ago, God has been faithful to prod and poke and peel back the many layers of sin, selfishness, and anger within Tara and I. Through it all, we are humbled and reminded of God’s grace. We have no good thing within us, but it is completely about Christ and his work on the Cross. The Paradox has loved and shepherded us well and we have finally found community here. When Pastor Ryan approached us about being a part of Grace Church Benbrook, we struggled with the decision. Our hearts were with Fort Worth—we had lived in Fort Worth longer and both of our jobs are in the heart of Fort Worth. We feel connected here. But God again softened our hearts and tenderly pursued us. The community we found at the Paradox is now in Benbrook and God is again calling us to trust Him.  

"We are excited to proclaim and boast in God’s grace to Benbrook in the years to come."

Looking back over the past twelve years it amazes me to see how God’s grace reduces us and exalts Him. As we become less and He becomes more, there is more joy in His righteousness, His sufficiency, and His sovereignty. Benbrook needs God’s grace and that grace can be found perfectly in Jesus. We are excited to proclaim and boast in God’s grace to Benbrook in the years to come.   


*Join the Bertrams and come to our second monthly gathering as a church plant on Wednesday, February 22nd 2017. Find a previous Planting As A Team story here.