There were four of us on the interview panel. But we divided into two groups. Not quite good cop, bad cop. But when I mention that Richard Coekin was in one group with Rupert Standring, it’s clear that one interview was always going to be more demanding than the other! I was in the other group with a wonderful Christian woman who has lots of experience of project management, recruitment, interviewing and so on. Inevitably both groups covered some of the same ground. After all, we were both concerned with assessing the candidates’ suitability for this pioneering planting ministry. But we tried to think about this by coming at it from different perspectives. Richard and Roo were concerned more with any plans for planting. We were concerned more about personality and character. Obviously I was the best choice for analysing the soft skills! We gave each guy two thirty minute interviews. But most ran over. There was just so much to discuss.
Three quick reflections on the process.
It was demanding. I’d spent the previous night working through each of the application forms and digesting what their referees had to say about them. I was mindful of the advice meted out by a senior saint that we ought to give more weight to a reference than an interview. I believe that. But I still wanted to meet the guys for myself and find out more about them. I was exhausted by the end of the morning. I imagine they were too. But if we’re going to ask guys to embark on an enterprise to plant churches from scratch or with small numbers then we need to be thorough. And we were.
It was encouraging. A handful of men got to talk about God’s work in their lives. What’s not to enjoy about that? Regardless of whether they end up as Antioch Planters or not, we were able to hear how the Lord has used them already in their existing church situations and also to hear about their godly ambitions for the future. I finished the morning praising the Lord for the encouragement of hearing godly and really able men talk about their longing to see the gospel promoted, churches planted and Christ honoured. It was food for the soul.
It was challenging. These are guys who are willing to work bi-vocationally in order to try to plant a church. They can receive anything up to £60,000 spread over three years, which is some way shy of the £50-70K it costs most churches to employ a full-time gospel minister in London. We don’t provide housing, a wage or a pension. And yet they’re up for the sacrifice. One of the planters, a man in his mid 40s stated that he wanted to be involved in three church plants before he retired. And his wife was keen as well! That’s made me ask some questions about the costs I’m prepared to incur so that unbelievers hear the wonderful news of Christ crucified. Every now and again that’s a question worth asking. Hearing what these guys were willing to do for Christ forced me to confront any areas in my own life where I’d settled for comfort over cost.
This was just the first batch of interviews. There are more to come. And we can still take others. So if you’re interested go here for details.