Most pastors feel called from God to serve in a certain church or ministry. Pastor Richard Butts at Westside Baptist Church felt led by the Lord to not only serve a church but to start a church.
“When I came out of bible college I was an assistant pastor in Indiana for two years then I came to Houston and just started a church,” Pastor Butts said. “I felt the Lord placed on my heart to start a church.”
Pastor Butts studied at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, where he also met his wife. Their journey to follow the Lord together started in 1977 and ever since then they have done just that. At the time Pastor Butts felt the call to start a church, his father-in-law was a pastor in Houston at North Houston Baptist.
“He is the one who really said there was a need for churches with biblically based preaching in the Houston area,” Pastor Butts said. “We didn’t raise any support. We just went out and rented a storefront, knocked on doors and held our first service in the middle of 1980.”
In 2008, Westside Baptist outgrew their storefront in Spring Branch and decided to move closer to the Katy area. For almost 10 years, they have been located at 3883 Lakes of Bridgewater Dr. in Katy. Once Westside moved to Katy they saw a considerable amount of growth particularly with younger members.
“Our nursery nearly tripled out here with the large amount of young families who began attending our church,” Pastor Butts said.
The move to Katy also allowed for Westside Baptist to expand their newly founded Christian school. Over the past couple of years, the kindergarten to 12th grade school has grown from 10 to 70 students.
“The neatest thing for me is that we’ve seen a lot of our members and students go off to pursue careers in ministry and the mission field,” Pastor Butts said. “To me that is the most exciting part of our ministry.”
Westside Baptist started with a group of 17 and has since grown to a congregation of 300. They have a strong active youth group with about 45 teenagers, a large choir of about 40 voices, an orchestra, and many other ministries for their diverse congregation.
“We here people say over and over again how multicultural our congregation is,” Pastor Butts said. “It is a little like to book of the Revelations where you go to all of the nations of the world. We just have so many different cultures and backgrounds represented.”
Moving to Texas was quite different for Pastor Butts but also familiar. He actually grew up on a thousand acre dairy farm in Western New York. However, it was still an adjustment for him to now live in the urban area of Katy.
“It wasn’t my choice to come to a city,” Pastor Butts said with a chuckle. “The Lord put me here. It took me awhile to adapt but then I realized where else could I be where I could have so many people to talk to for the Lord.”
Pastor Butts and his wife have both embraced Texas and it’s strong sense of state pride. It is evident they are proud to call Texas home when you walk into their home. Texas iconic symbols of bluebonnets, longhorns and the infamous Texas star are everywhere.
When Pastor Butts and his wife aren’t busy at Westside Baptist, they enjoy taking drives west of Katy in the rural areas to gaze upon the bluebonnets and farms along the rural highways.
“It is nice to be so close to that area,” Pastor Butts said. “I guess it reminds me of my own roots.”
Pastor Butts and his wife have three grown children and seven grandchildren they enjoy spending time with as well. Pastor Butts said his wife has been a huge part of his ministry over the years. She has served the church through the years with her musical talents and helped to bring out the musical talents of others.
“My wife is very musical,” Pastor Butts said. “She has a way of bringing out talent people have never seen in their own lives. If she finds somebody who even slightly played the harmonica when they were little she will steward them.”
Being able to spread the Gospel is truly the passion and utmost desire for Pastor Butts. He answered the call the Lord placed on his heart early in life and it has led to growth and prosperity for Westside Baptist.
“I just love being able to see lives changed through the power of the Word of God and the power of Christ,” Pastor Butts said. “Everyday is amazing.”
Pastor Butts is leading Westside Baptist towards even more growth with the addition of a new auditorium to seat about 500 people just after completing the construction of a brand new educational building.
“To think it all started in a storefront 37 years ago when I didn’t know anyone in Houston,” Pastor Butts said. “To see what God did with a farm boy who was so shy is unimaginable. I am just thankful to be able to make a difference in lives.”