Carlos Ortiz delivers a message at Gateway's North Austin campus. September 10th, 2022.

Gateway Church is Welcoming its New Senior Pastor.

Carlos Ortiz will become only the second senior leader in Gateway’s history, taking over from founding pastor John Burke.

AUSTIN, TX - April 26, 2023 – On May 7th Gateway Church will see its first Senior Pastor succession in its 25-year history. Carlos Ortiz will be Gateway’s new Senior Pastor, and John Burke will take on a new role, as Founding Pastor, in order to focus full-time on writing and pointing people toward our Gateway Austin Online Campus.

Carlos Ortiz has been an executive pastor at Gateway since he came on staff in January 2020. He will take the helm of a church in Gateway that has in many ways been countercultural to mainstream Christianity. In a state where polarizing culture can often cause friction around the topic of faith, Gateway Church has found uniqueness in Austin in its anchoring values of “Come As You Are” and “Love Everyone: Life by Life”.

Carlos now becomes one of only a handful of ethnically diverse senior pastors (of megachurches) in central Texas. More and more, Gateway’s leadership, staff, and attendees are reflecting the ethnic and national diversity of an expanding Austin.

The church has grown into several locations reaching thousands of people in the greater Austin area and beyond.


Our Next Great Adventure

From John Burke:

Kathy and I are excited to fill you in on a transition for us in ministry at Gateway coming up in May 2023. A couple of years ago, Kathy and I began sensing a call from God to step out in faith again, just as we did 25 years ago to start Gateway. Since writing Imagine Heaven seven years ago, there has been an incredible response of people around the world finding faith, hope, and healing through reading the book. The influence keeps growing as readers reach out to us with deep spiritual needs, asking questions, seeking, and searching to know the love of God. As Senior Pastor of a multisite church, I have not had time to write the books God has prompted me to write, nor respond and minister to people contacting us from around the globe. Given this, I’m excited to let you all know that this next May 2023, I will officially move into the Founding Pastor role at Gateway Church and will pass the baton of Senior Pastor to Carlos Ortiz.

I believe God led Carlos and Libby Ortiz and their family to Gateway for this very reason. After building into Carlos and watching him lead these past three years, including leading all the staff and Campuses this year as Executive Pastor, I’m even more excited and confident that Gateway’s best days are ahead. Carlos is a humble, authentic, what-you-see-is-what-you-get leader. He’s gifted as a teacher and empowerer of people, and he and Libby understand and live out our mission.

After May 2023, I will continue to teach and serve at Gateway, but in a supportive role to Carlos and our staff. Kathy and I will focus on a new ministry through continuing our writing influence and online outreach to the world. Our hope is to link people back to our Gateway Online Campus. I’ve been working on a new book, Imagine God, releasing next fall in multiple languages. Kathy will also be writing a devotional and children’s book to accompany the new books. We love you guys, and we will still be part of Gateway Church, just in a different capacity. I really do believe God has led us through these first 25 years, and He has brought Carlos and our great team of Campus Pastors and Executive Team to lead our mission forward for successive generations. I’m super excited to watch our best days as a church unfold!


See John’s note above!

From the time that Carlos served as Gateway’s North Campus Pastor and then most recently as our Lead Executive Pastor, John, the Spiritual Overseers, and Board of Directors watched and observed his strong leadership. Carlos and Libby were then asked to walk through an extensive vetting and interview process that culminated in God’s clear affirmation to John, the Overseers and Board that Carlos would step into the Senior Pastor role. 

Carlos has vast experience leading large churches as an Executive Pastor and Teacher.  Prior to Gateway, he was on the Leadership Team at Life Church, the largest church in the country. He led the entire staff as an Executive Pastor of Hope Fellowship Church, a 7000-person church in multiple campuses with a similar mission to Gateway. He also led a large church in Seattle with a culture similar to that of Austin, so he understands how to lead a church reaching people in an unchurched city. Carlos is a gifted teacher and communicator and an empowering leader. He is vulnerable and understands our No Perfect People Allowed culture, is a man of integrity who walks with God, listens carefully to God's Spirit, and is humble in his strengths. As our Lead Executive Pastor this last year, Carlos’s honest and forthright leadership has been a great asset for Gateway.

The transition period will be from August 2022 until May 2023. During this time John will be bringing Carlos up to speed and John will officially step into the role of Founding Pastor and Carlos into the Senior Pastor role on May 7, 2023.

As Founding Pastor, John will continue as part of our teaching team on Sundays and coach our leaders as needed. He and Kathy will be an extension of Gateway’s mission through writing and speaking, and as their outreach expands around the globe, they will guide people they reach towards community with the Gateway Online Campus.

Yes, Gateway Church will continue to be John and Kathy’s home church, and they’ll enjoy attending with their kids and grandkids. They desire to serve at Gateway and support Carlos and Libby, the staff, and leadership to continue helping people explore God and become a unified community of growing, multiplying Christ-followers. 

In this season, Carlos will remain as the North Campus Pastor. As we move forward, decisions will be made about how the North Campus Pastor role will be filled. After the transition in May, while Carlos will be visiting our other campuses and leading our campus pastors, he will continue to be a very present leader at North Campus.

No, we do not. Carlos has already been operating as the Lead Executive Pastor leading the staff all year. If there were transitions that needed to be made, Carlos would have already made them.

We are in a healthy financial position post-Covid, thanks to the faithfulness of so many people through the ups and downs of the past few years. This transition should not affect our financial situation, as we believe people are giving towards the mission and vision of Gateway rather than a specific leader.

In preparation for this transition, John has spent the last two years coaching Carlos and has seen firsthand Carlos’s strong leadership capabilities. John has full confidence in the current Executive Team and Campus Pastors, under Carlos’s leadership, to lead Gateway forward to make it better than it’s ever been.