More details about him and his work can be found at: www.harvestglasgow.org
Tell is a little about yourself
I’ve been married to Alison for 11 years. We have four kids under the age of five which serves the twin purposes of keeping our church attendance statistics healthy and giving momentum to our plot for world domination. We live on the south side of Glasgow. I play a bit of football
Tell us a little about the area you work in
I serve as Senior Pastor of a two year old church plant called Harvest Bible Chapel Glasgow. We presently meet in accommodation in Strathclyde University in Glasgow city centre. This was the best accommodation we could find, particularly for our children’s ministry (the alternatives in other potential facilities would have been like putting them into a dungeon). The area we are in puts us in contact with three key demographic groups- urban rich, urban poor and students. Our desire is to reach all three in an effort to seek to be as diverse as the city. We are presently looking at a building in one of the toughest areas in the UK in very close proximity to the city centre with a view to purchasing it.
Tell us a little about how you got involved in ministry in this area
Going back a couple of years a lot of the conversations I found myself having went along the lines of- ‘We can find a church that will teach us the Bible but not where we feel able to express how excited we are to follow Jesus; or you can go somewhere and the music is great but we wouldn’t want to trust our future to the teaching.’ That was the assessment that the typical lay person I was engaging with was making of the churches they were visiting in the city. We began to try and picture what a church would look like that would prize the teaching of God’s Word and seek to press it down into people’s lives, that would pursue worship that was vibrant, contemporary and that exalted Jesus, that would seek to nurture a culture of humility and community. We reckoned that it those things were in place then effectiveness and boldness with the Gospel would be a natural by-product.
So, in partnership with Harvest Bible Fellowship we set about planting Harvest Glasgow. This partnership has been huge, they have given us great help, support and encouragement as well as allowing us to be part of something bigger which was a big deal for us. I cannot speak highly enough about them and we are praying for opportunities to plant more churches with them across Scotland and the UK.
Tell us a little about some of the difficulties of ministry
In church planting one of the biggest challenges is my lack of background in certain areas (particularly business-wise). I have a list which I call the ‘Things they don’t teach you in Bible College’ list. Part of the challenge has been that people of certain age brackets find it more difficult (or so it seems) to transition to a planting context in this country so some of the acumen that is built up over time in a career is lacking somewhat from our church family. That said, it has never ceased to cause us to marvel how God has proven Himself faithful by allowing us contact with just the right person at just the right time.
In many ways a fundamental part of church planting has flown from and is pursuing culture change of some sort. Authentic relationships, proper accountability in the pursuit of the holiness that God calls us to, doing things with an excellence that expresses that God is worthy and that people can anticipate that same attention to detail in serving them. There are clear challenges to move beyond the superficial, defensive, back of a cigarette packet approach that is all too common (and which I am as complicit in all too often).
That last bit is probably most key of all though- my biggest challenge in ministry is me. I was challenged recently by the idea of stopping being a thermometer (taking the temperature of the church) and seeking to be a thermostat (setting the temperature of the church). That my people in the church know I am just like them I hope is clear. So too, I pray, is that the people in our church family join me in striving to be more like Jesus.
Tell us a little about some of the blessings of your ministry
I feel so blessed. My wife is growing through the ministry to her of other people in our church family; my kids are growing in the church and are gaining a great and increasing grasp of the Gospel. I reckoned that if those things were true for my family they would be true in other families too.
I have never seen people grow so much as they are doing in the church at any time in any church I have been part of. I am encouraged by people who are seeking to faithfully follow Jesus. We’ve seen a lot of lost, hurt, broken and disappointed people come to the church and be transformed and have the temperature of their walk with Jesus turned up.
The people who have made Harvest Glasgow their church home are humble and teachable and have been such a blessing to me and my family. I guess the thing that encourages us most as pastors is when the people in our church get it. Our church family are seeing that Jesus is great, they get that the Gospel is vital, they get that their lives can count for God and His glory. I could go on, but that’s a flavour.
Do you have a team or do you work alone? Why?
At the moment alone, the plan is to build a team as finances allow. It is still early days for us so we are trusting God to allow that kind of increase in His time.
Do you have a plan or a strategy for reaching out with Christ?
We talk regularly to our people about our two-fold strategy. We’re not going to be big into programmes. Part one is the people in the church investing themselves by boldly pursuing Gospel opportunities with the unsaved people God has placed in their lives, neighbourhoods, work places etc.
Part two is looking regularly and often at opportunities as a church to pursue compassion and mercy ministry. At the moment we are looking to send each of our small groups out to serve somewhere local to where they gather in the build up to Christmas with the goal of sharing the Gospel alongside serving the community.
How do you do discipleship?
Discipleship is a big driver for us. We highlight three aspects of discipleship- Worshipping Christ, Walking with Christ and Working for Christ. Everything in the church is geared towards discipleship including the preaching. The key aspect of this is really through small groups. These take a typical approach of Bible Study and prayer but, probably most fruitfully, we add some accountability time where the guys go with the guys and girls go with the girls to chat freely about some of the deeper challenges that God’s Word has posed them this week, that are brought out by a list of accountability questions that we have or relating to spiritual goals that they have set. We value highly the idea of mutual ministry- where the body looks after the body.
What are the best resources you have come across?
A lot of our resources have come from Harvest Bible Fellowship, out of their experience of planting multiple churches on a number of different continents. Over and above that I guess Acts 29 audio resources first raised awareness about church planting of the kind we are doing (with a tiny initial group and a vision for what you would long to see happen in a city). Darrin Patrick’s book ‘Church Planter’ is excellent by way of reminder and re-enforcement.
How important is training leaders for this work?
Massive. Whether it is to strengthen the work or spread the work, little can be done without training leaders. I believe this is a massive issue in Scotland. Where do we train people for ministry? Let me correct that, where do we equip people well for ministry? For the most part local churches here who are like us will have to lose people to further afield if they want to pursue properly meaningful, high calibre training (if they want some kind of educational certification). Training leaders for work in church plants can readily be done in church plants (there’s always enough to do right?!), training leaders for church planting is another matter. I’ve got some thoughts on that but that’s a whole different conversation.
Points For prayer
1. An ongoing and deepening closeness to God in our family
2. For a strengthening of Alison and my marriage so that it would serve as an effective Gospel picture, and model well to our church family what it is to love one another in such a way as demonstrates we love Jesus.
3. For the kids that their desire to know God and live life for God would grow, and that I would be wise to lead the church to serve that goal in their life (and the lives of those like them).
4. For Alison to be sustained as she serves me, our kids, the church and her work so faithfully. That she would have a big view of God and know Him very present in all that she does.