We met Jon at the beautiful grounds of St. Dunstan East Garden Church. A lovely setting for photos and a chat. We definitely recommend visiting this space on a hot Summer day with an ice coffee and a book. And if you’re looking for an easy, but insightful read then make sure to grab a copy of MORE> Real written by Jon himself. You’ll learn more about his book throughout this interview.
Jon is originally from Somerset, and is currently living and working in Sidcup as part of the leadership team at New Community Church.
Like a lot of young guys I had dreams of being a preacher and senior leader but God needed to humble me first.
What’s it like living and working in Sidcup, also for those who don’t know where is Sidcup?
If you’ve never heard of Sidcup you’re not alone. It was once described by James Corden as ‘the armpit of England’. It’s definitely not that bad. We’re in the outskirts of South-East London, have 5 banks, 5 charity shops and 5 tanning salons.
Did you always know you wanted to be a Pastor?
Like most kids I had big, unrealistic dreams of what I’d become when I grew up. Some of those dreams included becoming Prime Minister, a professional badminton player or a Hollywood actor. As I got a little older I decided I wanted to be a pastor, missionary or teacher. God has opened doors to work in churches and now I can only see myself working in role which my primary focus is sharing the gospel and discipling.
How did you get started?
I volunteered in churches – serving for a year when I was 18 and then another year when I graduated from university. Like a lot of young guys I had dreams of being a preacher and senior leader but God needed to humble me first. I had no platform or preaching opportunities for many years but decided to honour God and honour the church leaders by doing my best in the smaller roles I was given. It was frustrating having to wait but essential for my growth and character.
What do you consider one of your biggest challenges as a Pastor? And what do you enjoy the most?
One of the biggest challenges is that it can feel a bit all-consuming, with the lines between work, social life and church being very blurry.
On the flipside, one of my favourite things is being able to give lots of time and attention to disciple people and seeing the difference that Jesus makes.
If you weren’t working as a Pastor what would you be doing right now?
I’d probably be travelling the world. I’d go hang out with my brother and his wife in America. They live near Portland – which is the hipster capital of the world – so I’d start smoking a pipe and grow a big beard to fit in.
What is one thing you find particularly important for Christians to do/be today?
You wrote a book! How was the experience?
I loved it. Most days anyway. It took about 8 months and was fun but pretty intense doing it alongside a full-time job. I really believe in the book’s message and so that helped motivate me throughout the whole process.
Tell us about MORE> Real
The book aims to look at why so many of us get bored or disillusioned with Christianity. Jesus claimed to offer life to the full and that we could taste and see that God is good. If that’s the case then why do so many people reject him? Why do so many people walk away? Is it that God isn’t real or isn’t good or that we haven’t tasted the real thing? In MORE> Real we look at how embracing authenticity with God and others can give us foundations in our faith that survive the storms of life.
On my deathbed I want to know that I loved God and loved people well.
When life seems a bit quiet what kind of things or activities motivate you?
I’m one of the biggest extroverts I know. I love to be with friends and calculated that last year I only had 5 nights when I was at home without any plans or people to see. If anything, I’m trying to learn to be still, alone and at peace with silence.
Where do you find inspiration?
It’s amazing where you can find ideas and inspiration. Last night I went to a comedy gig and it really got me thinking about preaching. Last week I had pancakes with three elderly neighbours and they got me thinking about how we address loneliness. Getting around interesting people and places is essential for inspiration. I’m also discovering the value of getting away from your phone and having quiet moments where your brain rests and recharges.
What does success look like for you?
On my deathbed I want to know that I loved God and loved people well. I’m very harsh on myself and so I’m sure I’ll have regrets and frustrations but if I know that I’ve loved well then I won’t be too bothered about the size of my house, ministry or Instagram following.
On a lighter note
Three things you’re consuming right now
BOOK: The Emotionally Healthy Leader – Peter Scazzero
MUSIC: Geography – Tom Misch
SHOW: Band of Brothers (for the fifth time)
Favourite country you’ve visited.
Israel. Incredible history and it makes the Bible come to life. If you visit, make sure to do the free walking tour around the Old City in Jerusalem, and then go float in the water and bathe in the mud at the Dead Sea.