Introducing Dr. Chris Irving

Pastoral Candidate Bio

Dr. Chris Irving was born and raised in Texas, having spent his childhood in the south Texas town of George West. He initially sensed a calling to ministry at age 12 while attending Camp Zephyr. Years later while attending Texas A&M University, Chris surrendered his life to serve Jesus in full-time ministry. His first ministry positions were in youth ministry, but it wasn’t long before he felt called to pastor. Chris has served in several churches in South-Central TX, including First Baptist Church of Gonzales. He earned his Master of Divinity at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, and his Doctor of Ministry from Midwestern Seminary in Kansas City, MO. The heart of his calling to ministry is Isaiah 26:8, and 1 Corinthians 2:2. Chris currently serves as Senior Pastor at University Avenue Baptist Church in Honolulu, HI.

Chris is married to Amber, a graduate of the University of Mary Hardin Baylor. Together they have six beautiful children: Matt, Jake, Karalyn, Katie, Kylie, and Ben. They are also in the process of adopting three more children from foster care in Texas. Chris and Amber have been married for 20 years and are honored to serve together in ministry.

YouTube  Watch "Aloha from the Irvings"


Our Pastor Search Team was appointed in July 2020 to search out and recommend the next Senior Pastor to the Coastal Oaks Church faith family. We humbly ask our church partners to pray regularly for this team by name for the task they have agreed to take on for the sake of the Gospel in Aransas County and for the Coastal Oaks family at large.

  • Mike SOto (Chairman)

  • Dee Ann Hill (Secretary)

  • Tim Walker

  • Nicole Gilmore

  • Billy MCDonnel

  • Sandi Ridgley

Updates For Church Partners

Hi there, Coastal Oaks friends and ministry partners! This page is the spot to find the most current information and updates pertaining to the Senior Pastor opening here at Coastal Oaks. These updates provide a general timeline for how our process has gone up to this point.



With great hope in Jesus Christ & joy in our heavenly Father's guidance and provision through our season of leadership transition, we are pleased to announce that Coastal Oaks Church voted unanimously in a called business meeting today to call Dr. Chris Irving as our next Senior Pastor. Chris and Amber have accepted this call and we could not be more excited!


From the last report given by Mike Soto, Chairman, on 4/04, the Pastor Search and Personnel Teams at Coastal Oaks Church have been engaged in conversation since that date with the one, unique pastoral candidate these teams intend to recommend as the next Senior Pastor. These conversations have been blessed and have progressed without issue to a point where the PST is ready to bring the candidate, Dr. Chris Irving, to Rockport to preach "in view of a call" on Sunday, 5/02. We hope you will make plans to join with the Coastal Oaks faith family at 10AM on 5/02 in a joyous day of celebration and confirmation as we continue to pray, seek, and follow. A called business meeting will follow the 10AM worship gathering on 5/02 to hear and act on a recommendation from the Pastor Search, Personnel, and Finance Teams.


Mike Soto, PST Chairman, reported in our weekend worship gatherings that the team's work thus far has narrowed down the search to one desired candidate which the team intends pursue uniquely going forward. This has been communicated to the one desired candidate. Our Personnel and Finance teams are also involved at this point, working on "due diligence" tasks ranging from background check to education verification to salary package options.

There still is no deadline or timetable for the completion of the pastor search process - even though the team has a desired candidate, there is no guarantee that the candidate will have a desire to engage further. If all goes well in discussions going forward, though, we are hopeful the future might look like this:

  1. The candidate may visit Aransas County with his spouse to meet the church staff, visit the area, begin a housing search, and see the church property.
  2. After that, the candidate may bring his family to Rockport for a number of days to work out any final details with the PST, Personnel, and/or Finance Teams. "Meet and greet" type gatherings may also be arranged, if desired.
  3. The candidate would then preach on a Sunday "in view of a call" on which Coastal Oaks would convene in a called business meeting to vote to call this candidate as our next Pastor.
  4. An official announcement will be made after votes are tallied.

Please continue to pray for the PST (pictured above) as they pray for wisdom and discernment, and engage in discussions with this candidate going forward. We still, as a church, only want one thing - to discover God's will and move in obedience. Even though we are close, we want to move forward with cautious hope, continuing to pray for wisdom, guidance, and confirmation for all parties involved.


Mike Soto, PST Chairman, reported in our weekend worship gatherings that the team's work thus far has narrowed down the search to just four remaining candidates. This team remains committed to discovering God's will through this process with no deadline and has the full support of the Staff and church body to continue this journey. Though there is no deadline for completion some practical tasks, like background checks and education verification, are now underway with the final candidates. We continue to remain hopeful in Christ and look forward to God giving guidance and wisdom.


Mike Soto, PST Chairman, reported in our weekend worship gatherings that the team had made progress through the month of January, bringing the number of candidates down from ~160 to ~30. The team is now headed into a season of listening to audio and/or watching video of candidates. He requested continued prayer for wisdom and discernment through this part of the process.


The Pastor Search Team started off the new year by starting to dig into the resumes and applications submitted for our Senior Pastor opening. Please continue to pray for the PST as they seek wisdom and discernment through the process of considering and eliminating candidates going forward.


The window for submitting resumes/applications for our Senior Pastor position closed on 12/15.


The PST officially posted the job opening with both our State convention and another church jobs website and resumes are being received until 12/15. Interested applicants can check the SBTC's Next Steps database for info and directions on how to apply through 12/15/20.


After a couple of weeks of introductory meetings, the Pastor Search Team put the finishing touches on a digital survey that will be published on 9/11 in order to get feedback from the Coastal Oaks Church family on some things concerning our next Senior Pastor. This survey will be live on this page ("Pastoral Profile Survey" above) until 4pm on 9/28. If you are a Coastal Oaks ministry partner, please consider submitting your feedback to the PST.


Coastal Oaks Church officially appointed our Pastor Search Team in special called business meetings at the end of each weekend worship gathering today. It was a great day of celebrating the Lord's provision and protection to this point in our season of pastoral transition. Team members appointed are as follows: Nicole Gilmore, Dee Ann Hill, Michael Soto, Tim Walker, Billy McDonnel, and Sandi Ridgley (alt).


The Transition Team met yesterday evening to pray and finalize the list of nominees who are eligible to go on the final ballot. In that meeting the team completed that task and all nominees going on the final ballot have been notified accordingly. This same team also made the decision to go through the final selection process by mail, just like with the first round of nominations. Today, the Transition Team mailed voting instructions and a ballot to all verified ministry partners in order to complete the Pastor Search team selection process.

With the uncertainty of the COVID19 crisis still upon us in Aransas County we were unsure that we would be able to host our next quarterly business meeting on 7/19, as originally planned, to elect this team. Voting by mail allows this process to move forward through the uncertainty and also allows the opportunity to ensure all verified ministry partners at Coastal Oaks get a chance to vote.

So, they will surely take a couple of days to get to you, church family, but be on the look out for mail from the Transition Team with voting instructions and your ballot. All ballots should be returned in person or by mail no later than 7/22.

The next step after selection is to make this team official in a called business meeting. As of today, that will happen at the end of each worship gathering on 7/26. After being officially elected by church action, the Pastor Search Team will be trained on 8/02 by a representative from our State convention, the SBTC.



The Coastal Oaks Transition Team met on this date to start working through the nominations that were submitted by the published deadline of 6/22. The first round of nominations is now complete and the team will start contacting those who received the most nominations to inquire about the nominee's availability and willingness to serve on the Pastor Search Team (PST) very soon. We are still aiming to be ready to formally elect the PST by secret ballot at our next quarterly business meeting on 7/19 and are excited about the list of nominees submitted by those who participated in this part of the process.

We request that you continue to pray earnestly for the Transition Team as we lead through this season of pastoral transition.



Please have your Pastor Search Team nominations returned to the church office by end of business on this date.



Your Transition Team met to pray and plan, after several weeks worthy of COVID-19 delays, for Pastor Search Team (PST) nominations and decided to pursue the following concerning the nomination process for this team:

  1. This team would create and mail out nomination packets 6/11 to eligible church partners consisting of a welcome letter, a description of the ideal PST member, and a list of all church partners eligible to serve. Mailing packets enables us to ensure all eligible church partners receive a chance to submit nominations without having to call a meeting.
  2. PST nominations should be returned in person to the office, in our offering boxes, or by mail no later than 6/22.
  3. All PST nomination sheets must include the printed name, signature, and date to ensure verification. Nominations which do not include a printed name, signature, and date will be discarded.
  4. Generally speaking, the Transition Team is hoping to have PST nominations wrapped up in time for our next quarterly business meeting on 7/19 where that team will be confirmed/selected.
  5. Training for the newly selected PST will happen sometime after that business meeting on 7/19.