Originally anything but an urban dweller, I grew up in a small village in Northamptonshire. I then left to study for A levels in the rural idyll of the Monkton Valley, just outside Bath. I say ‘study’ but that word has a broad semantic range. For the next decade I travelled around the South of England reading Mechanical Engineering for three years at the University of Warwick, serving as an Air Engineer Officer in the Royal Navy and teaching at Shiplake College, Henley on Thames. But I’ve been in London since 1996 and Balham since 2002. I came to London to study at the Cornhill Training Course and to work at Dundonald Church, in the pleasant suburb of Wimbledon. It was a gentle introduction to the metropolis for a boy from the regions! The only professional qualification I’ve ever had was as a National Pool Lifeguard. It’s since expired.
After training at Oak Hill Theological College and studying for a semester at Moore Theological College, I returned south of the river in 2002 to lead a small church plant to Balham. And so, Christ Church Balham, the church of which I am currently the lead pastor was planted in October 2002. We launched an evening congregation with 25 people, the majority of whom came from St Andrew’s and The Bible Talks. Under God we’ve seen modest growth and have been able to plant a morning congregation in the same venue.
I was converted through the patient prayerful witness of friends from school as a result of my deep despair at my own moral performance. I grew up convinced that God would reward the good and that heaven was essentially a place for good blokes. The hellish alternative didn’t sound too appetising. And so I formulated my own criteria for what constituted a good bloke. In the course of a year with the Navy I discovered that I couldn’t be good. God humbled me through that time (though few would have known it). And for the first time that I can remember, I understood the cross as it was explained to me by a good friend on a beach in Bournemouth. That was the moment I believe that I was born again. Bournemouth! I’d never been there before and I’ve never been there since. But on that day I understood that Jesus Christ had been punished in my place, suffered the penalty that should have been mine and removed the guilty stain of my immorality. It changed my life. He changed my life. And things have never been the same since. In a good way!
The Perkins family currently stands at five. There’s my wonderfully long-suffering wife, Rosslyn. We married in 1998. She works part time as a GP and full time as a Mum. With the benefit of hindsight, it may be that simultaneously starting a church and a young family was not the wisest move we ever made! But the Lord got us through it. He gave me an outstanding woman to support me. I couldn’t have managed church or family without her. We first met in 1990 and (my) days at University were spent daydreaming that one day we’d date. After a period of sustained pressure she finally caved in. Persistence pays and she’s never regretted it! She bears a heavy load and I praise God for her companionship. I love her to bits; for her encouragement and so much more besides.
Then there’s our three kids; our eldest boy, Rufus, was born in 2002, our daughter, Flora was born in 2003 and our youngest son, Digby was born in 2005. Raising them has been the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, but also the most rewarding.
Sport remains a great passion of mine. I still play rugby; now back at Wimbledon RFC. In the last two seasons I’ve turned out for the Southwark Diocesan Cricket Club. And my new passion (born initially of necessity) is road cycling. I’ve become a middle-aged man in lycra (MAMIL).
I took to blogging after realising that ‘The Briefing‘ was never going to ask me to write an article. How was I ever going to launch the international arm of my ministry unless I took on the challenge of the interweb?! When I started I used to dump the full text of my sermons and a few things I’d written for church on a blog called Food4Thought. I morphed into ‘The Urban Pastor’ in 2009. I may try and secure the web domains for ‘The Suburban Pastor’ and ‘The Rural Pastor’ in case things don’t work out here in Balham! Number one son is threatening to set up a spoof site called ‘The Auburn Pastor’. For the record, I blog from the context of church ministry at CCB, I blog with things I use at CCB and I’ll blog about things that happen at CCB. I’m not blogging primarily for CCB.
It’s worth saying that the views expressed here, on this blog, are mine alone. They do not necessarily represent the views of our church council, the staff of Co-Mission or indeed anyone else but me. If you find them true and therefore helpful, praise God and ‘publish them abroad’! If they’re untrue and therefore damaging, blame me and me alone. The views expressed on any one day are the settled conviction of that time. But I change my mind. I’m allowed to do that aren’t I? It’s called repentance.