He’s an evangelist’s evangelist, who loves bringing people to Christ whether it’s using demographics for strategy, praying with runners, or preaching in a bar. The Rev. Bob Johnston wants everyone to connect with God. It’s his passion.
Johnston, who is an identical twin, grew up in Victoria, Texas where he felt God’s call in high school. He met with his rector who told him, “run from it and if you can get away you are not called.” He gave it a shot and went on to college, earning an engineering degree from Baylor and graduate degrees in business and law from SMU. He met and married his wife, Robin. But it turned out he couldn’t run from the call and earned a graduate degree in theology as well.
While working on his divinity degree at SMU, Johnston went to Holy Trinity Brompton in London, England for a yearlong internship. “It’s a great place to learn and they had five attorneys-turned-priest on staff, so I thought it would be a good fit.” His wife took a leave of absence so they could both live a year abroad, and The Rev. Larry Smith, who was the rector at Church of the Incarnation, offered Johnston a job upon his return. About a month before the couple left for London, Robin found out she was pregnant with twins.
The London church proved to be a great education for Johnston. “I got to run the school of theology there, help lead the hospital ministry and other incredible things,” Johnston said. He helped teach a popular evangelism course with more than 600 people, and took a class on church planting. His personal life was exciting as well, when his fraternal twin boys, Ian and Hugh were born.
Returning to Incarnation, Johnston took his England experience, researched demographics, put together a team, and launched the Uptown ministry, which focused on capturing young adults in the area. “The Uptown ministry was intentionally built as a church within a church because they were going to spin us off as a new church if we did not fit, but after a year and half the church leaders said they liked Uptown because it brought a lot of energy to the place,” Johnston said.
When he left Incarnation, Uptown Sunday attendance was pushing 500, nearly doubling the church. On holidays, that number was closer to 1,000. Johnston helped get the church involved in international mission trips, develop growth groups, and other creative ministries. For instance, he helped to start Theology Live, a lecture series in area bars that offered interesting theological topics that attracted the un-churched. “We would get people who would say, ‘I’m not ready to go to Church, but I’m glad you came to us.’” He also started Marathon Mass to offer prayer and communion to runners of the Dallas Marathon, which is always on a Sunday. Johnston began working at Saint Michael in January as Associate for Evangelism, working with the contemporary service, welcoming ministry, and evangelism. He is bi-vocational, working part-time as a priest and also practicing trademark and patent law. He has served on several diocesan committees.
Johnston’s twin boys are now age 12 and attend St. John’s Episcopal School. His wife, Robin, is an OB-GYN at Presbyterian Plano and Medical City Dallas and likes to cycle in her free time. Johnston is a runner and a private pilot. The family has a Jack Russell Terrier named Indiana Jones John Williams Johnston, or just Indy. Johnston’s identical twin brother Stuart is a surgeon at Baylor in Garland and he too has identical twin boys. When Johnston’s father, Robert, retired as a heart surgeon, he became ordained at age 77 in the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas.
Johnston is excited to be at Saint Michael and looks forward to his ministry here. “Saint Michael’s has lots of opportunities to grow, and I look forward to helping.”