Preaching students relish Osborne’s ‘pastoral heart,’ experience, wisdom


Chris Osborne’s office is filled with taxidermy of animals that he has hunted on a variety of expeditions. Some were captured in various parts of Texas, while some were caught in New Zealand.

Osborne, who has served as professor of preaching and pastoral ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary since 2020, hasn’t always loved hunting though. When he was a pastor in a rural community, he began hunting as a way to connect with the other men in his church. Although he did not like it at first, through the years it has become an activity that he enjoys.

Osborne’s other passion, University of Alabama football, is depicted by the crimson and white socks emblazoned with the “A” that he often wears. While he is passionate about hunting, playing golf, and cheering on the Crimson Tide, his passion for preaching remains at the forefront of his life.

Chris Osborne, professor of preaching and pastoral ministry, has been teaching at Southwestern since 2020.

His preaching experience spans decades while pastoring for 43 years at four different churches. He served for 33 years at his last pastorate at Central Baptist Church in Bryan, Texas. Osborne “wanted to leave before his congregants asked him to leave,” noting he has “seen a lot of pastors that stayed too long.” When the invitation came to teach at Southwestern, “it was perfect timing.”

In his role as a professor, Osborne teaches pastoral ministry, church theology, preaching, and Greek exegetical preaching courses, all of which he said he enjoys equally.

“The practical field classes are the ones that actually help them know how to live their calling,” said Osborne. For instance, in his Preaching and Pastoral Ministry class, he teaches students how to conduct funerals and weddings, lead deacons meeting, budgeting, and other practical ministry topics.

In October of 1977, when he was beginning his first pastorate, one of the first things he had to do was conduct a funeral for a lady’s teenage son. He remembered that time as being profoundly difficult, especially since officiating a funeral was not something he learned how in seminary, which has led him to be grateful to teach his students practical lessons.

Chris Osborne has been serving the Lord in ministry since 1977.

Jordan Franklin, a Master of Divinity student from San Tiago, Dominican Republic, who grew up as a missionary kid, has been deeply impacted by the teaching and mentorship of Osborne. He has taken three classes from him and said, “By far, he has been the best professor here.”

“His classes are very practical,” Franklin explained. “It is knowledge he has put into practice himself. He has had a variety of experiences that give his experiences a lot of weight. He walks through Bible passages.”

Franklin has learned from Osborne that “God is in charge of calling and God calls you to a place.” Franklin really appreciates the applicable concepts he has learned in the Practical Church Ministry class, including topics such as hiring, firing, counseling, funerals, and weddings. “Dr. Osborne has a lot of depth, and his words carry a lot of weight. I feel Dr. Osborne is a person I can always call,” he said.

Franklin not only knows Osborne as a professor, but also as a counselor. Franklin is engaged to be married in the spring and Osborne is doing premarital counseling with him and his fiancée. The premarital counseling that Osborne conducts is not only in-depth, but also involves his wife, Peggy, who meets one-on-one with his fiancée too. Osborne told the couple he wants to follow up with them after they are married and meet at their one-year anniversary and five-year anniversary.

Osborne is committed to helping students live their calling by sharing his experiences from pastoring and being available both in and outside of the classroom. He does this in several ways, including by inviting preaching students into his home.

Franklin cherished a time spent at the Osborne’s home last year when he and fellow students from his Expository Preaching class were invited. “The Osbornes bought Olive Garden and set up a big table outside with lots of chairs and invited the students as well as their family. I brought my fiancée and Dr. Osborne prayed, we fellowshipped, talked, and ate dinner. It was nice to get to know other people in my class that are going into the ministry,” remembered Franklin. He said it is important to note, that “not only does Dr. Osborne have the educational background, but he has a pastor’s heart. The love he has for his students is evident.”

Chris Osborne is committed to helping students realize their calling through learning from his experiences.

J. J. White, a Master of Divinity student from Yazoo City, Mississippi, is taking Theology and Practice of Pastoral Ministry and Advanced Preaching Through 1 John with Osborne. He speaks highly of the time and attention Osborne gives to his students.

“The investment Dr. Osborne is making in my life and ministry is that he is truly doing everything he can to prepare me for preaching and pastoral ministry. In his classes, he teaches us the practical side of ministry like how to perform weddings, how to deal with divisive church members, and what it really means to be called to be a pastor,” said White.

Osborne has given his cell phone number to him, and White has called him. “He always gives me great advice about ministry, and just life in general.” White said his favorite thing about Osborne is “that he is real. He is honest with his students about ministry, and the difficulties it presents. He doesn’t sugarcoat it. This is so important because it really opens the eyes of his students to how difficult, yet rewarding the call to ministry truly is,” said White.

Justin Graham, a Master of Divinity student from Dallas, Texas, is currently the 11th and 12th grade and college and young adults minister at Northeast Houston Baptist Church in Humble, Texas. He has known Osborne for many years as a member and staff member of Central Baptist Church during his college days at Texas A&M University.

“He is so interesting because he is one of the sharpest and most brilliant people I know. He preaches directly out of the Greek with no notes, speaks five or six languages, can explain all kinds of rhetoric or philosophy at the drop of a hat, but he is also relatable,” Graham observed. “He is brilliant, but also approachable and relates and speaks to average people. He is completely approachable to everyone.”

Chris Osborne engages his students through humor and fun.

While Graham worked at the church with Osborne in Bryan, Texas, he observed the way he interacted with people and the authentic care he had with widows, international students, people with special needs, and young children.

“He has a remarkable gift with the economy of words,” stated Graham. “He can say more in less time than anyone I know. Anytime that I have a question that is pastoral related, I can just give him a call and ask him his thoughts on it. He checks in on me. Having access to him is the biggest thing because he has so many decades of experience preaching and pastoring and so to have that kind of a person be available to talk, to answer questions and be encouraged- all of those things are massively beneficial,” said Graham.

In addition to his life as a professor, he is also the teaching pastor at Cross Church North Fort Worth, which also has a campus in North Richland Hills. “I preach from the same teaching calendar as the other campus, but I write my own messages,” said Osbourne. He and his wife “seek to get to know as many people as they can.”

The skills, lessons, and experience Osborne learned over four decades of pastoral ministry and leadership are now being used to impact and equip the next generation of pastors studying at Southwestern.

Osborne said he engages with students and they have “a lot of fun in the classroom. It’s in my field, so I just share with them what I know.”