The thinking behind this interview is that some people assume Pastor's work one day a week - Sunday. They turn up, preach and go home and don't come back til the following week. Unless there is a wedding on the Saturday.
So I asked David if he'd do an interview to show us what a Pastor does during the rest of the week, and he very kindly agreed. So, thank you very much for sharing so openly and honestly with us.
On with the questions.
1. How long have you been a Christian? Can you tell us a little about your conversion?
I became a Christian when I was 14 years old. My parents were Christians, and when I was born they were missionaries in Jamaica. My father was a Methodist minister and was involved in church-based pastoral ministry. When I was 10 years old, we moved to Northern Ireland where my parents were originally from. I grew up under my father’s ministry and was converted through his preaching of the gospel. I realized I was a sinner in need of forgiveness and I put my trust in Jesus for salvation. I benefited greatly spiritually from Christian Endeavour and other church youth groups, and from the discipleship of older Christians.
2. Did you always want to be a pastor?
I was keen not to go into church ministry just because my father was a pastor. My dad had left school at 14 years of age and worked as a telegram boy in Belfast and then as a Royal Navy storesman in Hong Kong before he went into pastoral ministry and he spoke to me about the benefits of experience in secular employment prior to going into full-time Christian ministry. I was involved in leadership of the Christian Union as a student and sensed at that time that I might be a pastor in the future, but wanted to work first in secular employment.
3. Have you had any other jobs in the past?
I did a degree in civil engineering and after graduation worked as a site engineer in the West of Scotland for a year before moving into an engineering design office in Hampshire where I spent 12 years as an airport engineer. I worked on airport development projects in UK and overseas, and lived for a time in Madagascar and Tanzania.
4. How long on average does it take to write a sermon?
Writing a sermon takes as much available time as I have in the course of a week. In my first pastorate I was preaching 2 or 3 times every week, and so I had to prepare quickly. It was a good discipline. Generally I try and get two full mornings for sermon preparation and then whatever other time I can glean in the week alongside my other pastoral responsibilities.
5. Do you ever get a day off? I know you have a ‘designated day’ but do you ever get to keep it? What if something happens on your day off?
I try to have a full day off each week and will often spend the day with my wife. I find that I have to plan how to spend my free time as otherwise the temptation is to pick up some pastoral work that needs doing. Occasionally there may be pastoral emergencies that demand a response on my day off and generally I will rearrange my plans to accommodate this, if no-one else is able to step into the situation.
6. Most people think a pastor simply turns up on a Sunday and preaches, once possibly twice. What do you do the rest of the week?
In the rest of the week, I prepare for Sunday, with significant time spent in study for preaching. I attend various meetings of the church each week e.g. seniors’ lunch, elders’ meeting, staff meeting, prayer meetings/homegroup. I do some pastoral visitation including visiting members in hospital. I often have a committee meeting e.g. mission, outreach, seniors. With my wife, I do marriage preparation classes with engaged couples. There is also some administration. I meet 1:1 with some individuals.
7. How many churches have you worked at in the past?
I have been in one other church as a pastor prior to coming to Reading – Whitby Evangelical Church in North Yorkshire - where I was for 7 years.
8. How do you fit your pastoral duties with those of a husband and father?
I often say to my children that they probably see more of me during the week than they would if I was still working as a consulting engineer. I am busy in the evenings with church responsibilities, but I am able to sit with the family most days to eat an evening meal together. I spend time with my wife on my day off (Friday) and try to ensure we have some family time on Saturdays.
9. Have you ever questioned your faith or calling? Most of us have doubts at one time or another and assume pastors are immune from this (and things like losing our temper etc too)
I wouldn’t say I have ever really seriously questioned my faith or calling although there are times when I have found living the Christian life and serving full-time in the church difficult and draining. Sometimes its hard thinking that I’ve been a Christian and a pastor for a reasonable length of time and I’m still struggling with prayer or witnessing or reading the Bible devotionally or some sin. Its good to be reminded of my own weakness and to be reliant on God to provide the help and strength and grace that I need to live as a Christian and to serve others as a pastor. The doubts I have are not as much related to the truth of the gospel, but more to do with a lack of faith sometimes in the ability of God to work in the lives of people who seem so disinterested or antagonistic to the gospel.
10. How can we best pray for you?
Pray that I would grow in my love for the Lord and for His people and for those who need to hear the gospel and believe in Jesus. Pray that the Lord would keep me faithful is serving Him and use me to evangelise, encourage and equip others.