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Pastor John's journey

I was born and brought up as an only child in rural Kent where, after a gentle childhood, my world was rocked by my parents’ divorce when I was 15. I spent my teenage years and early twenties as a very angry young man looking for meaning and value in all kinds of wild things alongside a whole heap of colourful friends. I lived something of a ‘double life’ through these years as, immediately after leaving school at 15 to support my mum, I began a 16-year banking career and so juggled a life of respectable work with rather rebellious time off.

While pursuing a girl in a pub I encountered probably the first real Christian I’d ever met and she talked to me about a loving, caring, knowing God who’d come looking for me (and everyone else) in the form of Jesus and who would answer if I cried out to Him. So I did - even though I didn’t really know what I expected to happen – and He replied! Then I read the book The Cross and the Switchblade about another angry young man, Nicky Cruz, a gang leader in New York, who’d been introduced to Jesus and had his life changed forever. It just so happened that right when I was reading the follow-up book, Run Baby Run, Nicky Cruz came to my hometown as part of a world tour! I was persuaded to go along, thinking there would be just a few of us there, only to (somewhat undramatically) respond to an ‘altar call’ and give my life into the care of the only one who could ever really forgive, understand and give real life in all its fullness.

From then on, I discovered a whole new world of real Jesus followers, vibrant church and an overwhelming sense of ‘coming home’ at last. My whole life was changed; my pastimes were transformed beyond belief! Who could have thought The Bible was so fabulous and the passion for knowing and loving Jesus could be so enriching and life giving?! The journey from then onwards was rarely straightforward or without cost but the love of Jesus and the purpose and value of giving myself to serve Him with my whole life was, and is, incredible. After a number of years, I was able to take voluntary redundancy from the bank, sell my house and most of my possessions and go to London Bible College; this felt like a significant step of faith. When I left college, after three extraordinary years, it was with a degree in Theology and a fiancée: Sue and I were married a fortnight later and have served in the leadership of a number of precious churches ever since.

Our life together has been a series of adventures of trusting in God that culminated in our commencing a long-held desire to establish a discipleship learning community called Outreach House in the Lake District in 2005. There, a small team of us sought to live a Rhythm of Life that enabled us to prioritise studying our way through the whole Bible over 7 years and reaching out to our community with the grace and love of Jesus. It worked and we loved it!! I also completed a Masters degree in Missional Leadership with a focus on radical discipleship and we thought that this would be the pattern for the rest of our lives. 

Seemingly God had other ideas. Having completed the first 7-year cycle at Easter 2012, a period of waiting followed where we cried out to God - with much confusion that He would be asking us to ‘lay down’ something so good and so valuable to building His Kingdom. A prayer letter to supporters led us to work at Garstang Free Methodist church for 12 months whilst we sought our next step. However, God is so very gracious. We fell in love with His Body here and a tangible sense of His leading changed everything.

At the beginning of June 2013, I accepted a call to be the Lead Pastor at Garstang. It’s so not what we were expecting, but God knows so much better and we’re thrilled to be in the very best place possible - the place where God is calling us to be. Garstang is a very wonderful place to be and GFM is a very beautiful Body in good shape and excited for all that lies ahead. Together, we have such a corporate sense of being ‘on the verge’ of something that God is doing; so our prayer is simply to keep in step with His Spirit and let the adventure continue...

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