While still a student at A&M, Gregg Matte ’92 created a start-up with his three roommates. Initially, they operated out of their apartment. Demand for their service quickly outgrew the facility as their number of clients on-campus climbed from 12 to 800 in the span of three years. He learned on his feet – how to manage a team of volunteers, how to advertise, how to maintain mission and identity in the face of rapid expansion.
Matte graduated but remained involved with the organization, eventually serving on the board of directors. Today, 20 years later, his start-up, Breakaway Ministries, touches approximately 10,000 Aggies each year. The multidenominational Tuesday night Bible study meets in Reed Arena, and sometimes Kyle Field, for an hour of student-led worship and study.
“It has bloomed into something of a spiritual tradition at A&M,” says Matte.
“My business degree was tremendously helpful to me in starting Breakaway and even today as pastor, because it gave me the principles upon which to build a foundation for a lasting ministry to stand on,” says Gregg Matte ’92.
Matte had come to A&M to study marketing, but he says it didn’t take him long to figure out ministry was his calling. While it wasn’t seminary, he discovered that the things he was learning in the classroom at A&M were vital to ministry. “My business degree was tremendously helpful to me in starting Breakaway and even today as pastor, because it gave me the principles upon which to build a foundation for a lasting ministry to stand on.” Staff, budgets, facilities, contractsâ€”these are things that church leaders and business leaders alike must manage well. “The education I received at A&M prepared me to do ministry and to lead.”
After graduating from A&M, Matte attended Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, where he earned a master’s degree in religious education.
Today, Matte is the senior pastor of Houston’s First Baptist Church, where he shepherds a congregation of 25,000 members. To lead a church of that size requires a high degree of organization, especially since much of the work is accomplished by volunteers, he says. That’s the biggest challenge of his occupation. “There’s never enough time in the day. With a church of this sizeâ€¦I just wish I had more time in the day to connect with people even more.”
Technology makes his ministry have an even larger impact. His church’s website is full of digital resources, such as podcasts of his sermons. He also blogs occasionally for the Houston Chronicle website, Chron.com.
“Doing ministry in this digital age is wonderful,” he says. “For a very low cost, you can go worldwideâ€¦Also, it’s a communication tool people readily receive. We enjoy being on our computers, listening to podcasts. We want to surf the Internet and read blogs and emails on our phones.” In previous generations you might have had to wait for Billy Graham to come to your city, then buy a ticket and fight traffic and crowds to get to the stadium to hear him preach. Now, you can hear the same message at home, and that means so many more people are able to be touched.
Matte says that the 2,000 people that watch Houston First Baptist live webcast each Sunday morning make up the second largest service offered by the church. “We call it the pajama church, because you can sit in your pajamas and watch the service at your computer.”
There are limitations to e-church, though. “The great things in ministry are personal interactions, when you’re there with the people of God and you’re able to connect with them and be encouraged. That doesn’t happen typically in a digital venue.”
It’s impossible for him to have the close connection that he’d like to have with each of his congregants. Still, it’s the people that make his job in ministry worthwhile. “There’s nothing that can beat the greatness of seeing a changed life, when you see somebody really connect with Christ, when Jesus makes a difference in their life.” Seeing families restored, marriages saved, teens walking in the lightâ€”that’s why he does this work.
Matte’s recently published first book, Finding God’s Will, focuses on the life of Moses, and seeks to answer the question that Matte says he is asked more than any other as a minister: “What is God’s will for my life?” It is on sale in bookstores and on Amazon.com.
Categories: Former Students