Senior Pastor James A. Sterling – born August 18, 1963 in Lubbock, Texas, is married to Natalie Sterling (anniversary – December 13, 1983) and they have 3 children: AJ, Andrew, and Olivia.
James spent his early childhood on west Texas farmland. During his teen years, his parents moved south of Houston and he subsequently graduated from Pearland High. While attending college, James’ friend introduced him to a cousin from England (Natalie), who was visiting Texas. After dating this young lady for a few weeks, he proposed marriage, and she accepted. She flew home and told her parents, sewed up some loose ends, and bought a one-way ticket back to Texas.
With a varied background in experience, he worked for several years in the petroleum and drilling industry in Texas, New Mexico, and Virginia, with applications of operations, engineering, process control computer technologies, and departments of health, safety and environment. While working on projects in Yorktown, Virginia, he and Natalie decided to accept a job transfer offer to the Yorktown facility. While there, he came to the clear understanding that the Lord was guiding him to a different capacity of ministry.
James and Natalie eventually enrolled at the Center for Christian Education in Irving, Texas. So it was back to Texas, where they lived in Mesquite while James commuted to the school. James graduated in the class of 1997 and continued studies with the Theological University of America, where he completed his graduate studies. He is also certified as a Family Assessment Specialist in the State of Texas and is consulted for child placement, including foster care and adoption. In addition to writing reports for the State, James has also written a number of articles and has ‘minor’ (as he refers) publications in newspapers and online magazines.
James describes his focus on teaching a ‘reality’ gospel – meaning, the Word of God with a primary application to our contemporary lives. He believes the Word is the standard by which all else must be measured, relying on it as the actual will of the God we worship. James is adamant that the Word must be understood strictly within its context and that Scripture be allowed to ‘interpret itself’. He states that the Holy Spirit is necessary for understanding, because without Him, it is impossible to understand the things of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Furthermore, James utilizes a philosophically logical approach with a classical apologetic (overlapping in the strength of other forms of the apologia). Taking these, and other ‘difficult’ words and phrases, he attempts to teach things in a way that most can understand and learn from. As he reminds the congregation when they are responding with answers during lessons – “Now, let’s tell it to a child,” in order to get it in the simplest form possible for understanding.
Additionally, James teaches through an entire book of the Bible at a time. He will not set studies according to a calendar, therefore allowing them to develop according to the congregation’s understanding. He believes that giving the historical aspects, in conjunction with the emphasis of context, will allow people to experience the character of God and to concentrate on what He is doing in the history of man. Therefore, the transcendent principles emerge for current day application in regard to God’s will for His people today.
James describes his time during the planting of CCF (2005) as the ‘best years of his ministry experience’. He considers himself a ‘teacher’ instead of a ‘preacher’ and seeks to communicate God’s message to bring people as close as possible to the incredible character of God.
He also enjoys fishing (particularly at Lake Arrowhead just a few miles from the building), general horticulture, and getting out of the office frequently to work on projects.
In reading outside of Scripture, James appreciates Ravi Zacharias and C.S. Lewis foremost. You can look at the link on this website for a few of his book ‘pics’. In addition to theology, he has a heavy background in culture, philosophy, and ethical studies.
He considers his life as a whole a resounding testimony to God’s grace – literally. His favorite book of the Bible continually changes to the one that he is currently teaching and he is most drawn to the men of Scripture, Joshua and Elijah. He attributes his ‘logical method of thinking’ to his father, Jim Sterling, his compassion for the lowly to his mother, Judy Hocking, and his understanding of grace from his wife Natalie, who led him back to the Lord by saying ‘yes’ to marriage.