GD: Hello Jonathan Hunt and welcome to Exiled Preacher. Please tell us a little about yourself.
Born 1977, born again 1992, called to preach in 2005. Married since 2002, to Clare, with one step-son, John, who is 14. I have a degree in English Literature from the Open University. For the last three years I have been full-time carer for my wife who has MS, and I have served as Preaching Elder at Cheltenham Evangelical Free Church.
GD: You blog at Pastor’s Pen. How do you view blogging in relation to the pastoral ministry?
A word of explanation, perhaps. I have blogged in various incarnations since 2004. Upon accepting the new Pastorate, I decided that I really could not continue to blog as a private individual. I do view blogging technology as useful, though, and so I will be continuing to 'blog' using a part of our new church website, www.mortonbaptist.org. This will mainly be a means of placing online the pastoral letters, articles and book reviews which I write for our monthly church magazine, the 'Morton Messenger'.
GD: You are about to become Pastor of Morton Baptist Church, Thornbury. Describe your call the work of the ministry at Thornbury.
It was a great suprise. Although Clare and I had the sense that we were open to a move somewhere, we could not see how it would work out as we needed to stay in Cheltenham for at least another 18 months. I had been aware of the church for about three years, having attending various preaching rallies there, and preached on a few Sundays. In May 2011 I attended such a rally meeting, and I was taken aside by the Church Secretary afterwards. 'May we register an interest?' he asked. I came home and discussed it with Clare, prayed, and the next day agreed that they could take it further. I was 'interviewed' by the Secretary and former Pastor, and then preached with a view twice one Sunday at the end of June. I also understand that various references from experienced ministers were taken up. On Friday 1st July, the church members extended an unanimous call to me, which I have (obviously) accepted, and I commence formally on 1st January 2012.
GD: And the Induction Service is when?
Let's get this straight - the Ordination Service AND the Induction Service are BOTH on Saturday 14th January 2012 at 2pm.
GD: That's clear, then. What are your hopes and fears as you contemplate your first pastorate?
My hopes are many. Primarily that the Lord will be pleased to bless our ministry to the salvation of many in the area, but equally that He will bless and encourage the saints who have been bruised and battered by some considerable troubles and unexpected bereavements. Secondarily I hope as ever that I might grow in grace and be a blessing to others. I continue to be amazed that someone like me could be used in this way. A minor hope is that we might sing some more Psalms! My fears? All about myself. Jesus Christ never fails - but I know that I do! I also fear that if there is blessing, praise will be wrongly attributed to me rather than to Almighty God.
GD: Where did you train for the pastoral ministry and what did you find most helpful about your training?
Mostly in the school of experience. The past few years have seen me do pretty much everything that arises pastorally, apart from a wedding. I did attend the London Reformed Baptist Seminary for four years but I freely confess that whilst I completed full attendance and (I hope) did all the reading, I didn't manage to submit all the assignments. I continue to train myself and I am trying to study some greek now. If there was one thing most helpful about LRBS, it was the series of 'Book overviews' given by various pastors who brought out the chief themes, opportunities for teaching or evangelistic preaching, and schemes for covering the contents, in all the books of the Bible.
GD: Who has had the greatest influence on your theological development?
Peter Masters. This is the obvious truth, because he was my pastor for 24 years. I owe Dr Masters a great debt - and if I could have two attributes of his - his passion for the lost and his desire to make the scriptures accessible to everyone - then I would be very happy. I would just add that in the ten years that I have been away from London, I have continued to develop theologically, and some of my positions would now be a little different from his - although I would still affirm the 1689 confession with very minor variations.
GD: If time travel were possible, which figure from post-biblical church history would you like to meet and what would you say to him/her?
It is corny but I cannot get beyond Mr Spurgeon. I would love to know what his voice sounded like. What would I say? Nothing. I would be listening.
GD: What is the most helpful theological book that you have read in the last twelve months? It is a must read because...
A small one. 'Singing the songs of Jesus' by Michael Lefebvre (Christian Focus). Helpful because it is the best theological presentation of why we should sing the Psalms in worship. A must read because it explains so plainly why the Psalms are Christ's songs which we may sing WITH Him. It avoids the pitfall of arguing for exclusive psalmody (without saying whether that is right or wrong) and this makes the case for the singing of the Psalms in public worship all the stronger.
GD: Care to share your top three songs or pieces of music?
My tastes are very broad. Thanks to Gary Brady (he posted a link to youtube on his blog, Heavenly Worldliness) I do enjoy the music of Adam Young, better known as 'Owl City'. A professing Christian, his lyrics are clean, the music is fun and there are many spiritual messages in the songs. My favourite track is the multiple-platiunum hit 'Fireflies'. That's only really one answer isn't it? I'll probably say Handel's Messiah if that isn't cheating, and also 'I was glad' by Parry.
GD: What is the biggest problem facing Evangelicalism today and how should we respond?
A lack of corporate prayer. That is simply my own personal observation. Empty church prayer meetings, long silences, people praying about pet theological issues, and next to no pleading for God's blessing and help, particularly in evangelism. How we should respond is fairly obvious to my mind - make much of corporate and private prayer, encourage and exhort people to pray, and give the lead to the people we serve.
GD: And which blogs do you most enjoy reading and why?
Not very many. I use an RSS reader which allows me to see what is available at a glance. Apart from your good blog, I would say that the top five I visit every day are David Murray's Head Heart Hand, Brian Croft's Practical Shepherding, Jeff Lyle's Transforming Truth, Jeremy Walker's The Wanderer, and for politics and current affairs, Archbishop Cranmer. Very many good blogs have fallen into dis-use in recent times, I note.
GD: Thanks for that, J. Every blessing with your new ministry.