Central Worship Pastor Chris Opie and his family are a long way from their home in New Zealand. They left the beautiful mountains and sea-coasts to experience the hot, dry plains of Texas. The Opie family might have left a beautiful home behind, but they left to create something beautiful in Texas—a beautiful form of worship that connects us to God in a deep, meaningful way.
Growing Up in New Zealand
Chris Opie grew up in Tauranga, New Zealand, the largest city in the Bay of Plenty. Its coastal environment provides a great place to go surfing, fishing, and sailing. Living close to the beach, Chris enjoyed surfing with his family. After enjoying long days on the beach, he remembers grabbing a Coke and meat pie to satisfy his hunger. One of the disappointing things about America so far is he cannot find a meat pie. But he will continue looking for this delicious snack from his native country.
While spending his summers outdoors enjoying the climate and waters of New Zealand, he spent his weekends at church where his father was a pastor. Growing up a pastor’s son, he heard about faith and the Bible at a young age. But it was at a camp when he experienced one of the moments that impacted his personal faith journey the most. Dave Evans, an Australian worship leader, talked about owning your faith rather than relying on your parents’ faith. It inspired Chris and made him reflect on his own faith.
Achieving a Great Accomplishment
When asked about his greatest accomplishment, Chris responded, “Apart from Jesus, I would have to say marrying my amazing wife, Mary. She is incredibly talented and loves people like crazy, which totally inspires me.”
Chris Opie first met his wife, Mary, at a Christian music festival where they enjoyed music by Third Day. Chris describes the first time he held his wife’s hand as the best moment of his life.
After settling into married life, one of his greatest accomplishments, the couple had three children: Reuben, (9 years old), Abby (7 years old), and Benji (2 years old). As a dad, his kids have to wake him up when reading bedtime stories as he often falls asleep. When he starts slurring his words as he dozes off, the children know that is the signal to bring him back to reality and wake him up to finish the story.
Responding to the Call
Before being a full-time worship pastor, Chris Opie felt called to volunteer to oversee the worship teams at The Street Church in Wellington, New Zealand. As a volunteer, he brought the experience of a full-time musician and the love for others.
Describing why he answered the call at The Street Church, Chris says he “saw the amazing abilities of people at church and the need to pulling people together for the cause of giving worth to God.”
Originally, the church had him in the volunteer position of Music Director, but a few years later, his volunteer position turned into a part-time position, and then, later a full-time position as Worship Pastor. But this would just be the beginning of what God would call him to do.
In 2005, Chris met Chase Oaks Senior Pastor Jeff Jones at a conference. Over time, he would meet the other Chase Oaks pastors as they traveled to New Zealand to speak at the Living Stones Conference, a conference that helps churches work together to develop emerging leaders. Throughout this time, God was connecting Chris with Chase Oaks Church for work to be done later.
In June of 2017, Chris reconnected with Jeff Jones at the conference during which they engaged in a casual conversation surrounding the topic of worship. Being in a transitional place at the time, Chris started having conversations with other pastors from Chase Oaks.
As the conversations started turning towards him joining the Worship Team at Chase Oaks, Chris, Mary, and their nine-month-old baby visited Texas. The Opie family spent a week to see if they felt moving to Texas was God’s calling for them.
Upon returning home, Chris and his wife wrestled with whether this was the right opportunity for their family. After hearing God’s call, they made the difficult decision to leave their extended family and friends behind to pursue God and to respond to His call.
After enduring a nine-month visa process, Chris and his family learned “about God and our relationship with Him, and even when the right call comes, often the right timing takes a lot longer.”
Three Fun Facts About Chris
1. Favorite Sport
Coming from New Zealand, Chris is a fan of rugby. While we are cheering for the Dallas Cowboys, the Opie family will be cheering for New Zealand’s All Blacks rugby team.
2. First Job
Chris spent the early days in his career as an Automotive Petroleum Transfer Engineer, a fancy way of saying he pumped gas at a local gas station. While he loved the cool cars and smell of gas, he hated the slow times when there were no cars to pump gas into. In Chris’ words, “so boring.”
3. Bittersweet Transition
Even though they miss the family and friends they left behind in New Zealand, Chris and Mary are really excited about learning a new culture and having their children experience what it is like to be different. They are also excited about the great things God will do in Texas for and through their family. Chris looks forward to being a part of the amazing Worship Team at Chase Oaks Church.