Chris, give us a sketch of your journey with KCD. When did you start coming to Kings, and how did you end up as our Operations Manager?
I came to Durham as an undergrad back in 2007, to study Maths & Economics. I quickly got stuck into Kings as a student being involved in cells and clusters and serving in the worship and tech teams on Sundays. As I was coming up to graduate in 2010 I had a number of options for my next step, most doing things within a ministry context, and following a few conversations with staff at KCD I decided to stay for the Internship. That then led to being in the first year of Ministry Trainees before taking on the Student Worker role full time in 2012 alongside doing an MA at Cranmer Hall.
As I reflect back I didn’t foresee that I would end up staying in Durham as long as I have; I’ve always trusted Jesus with my next step, knowing that he will always guide into good things. As I’ve got married and had a child my sense of how far in advance I want to plan to be in Durham has grown and we now see ourselves here for the foreseeable future.
I stayed in student ministry right through to just before COVID hit last year and transitioned to the role of Operations Manager. I have experienced God’s timing in that transition for myself and I also believe for the church.
What will you miss most about your role as Student Minister?
Obviously all the lattes and flat whites!
Joking aside, it’s the walking alongside people on a regular basis and seeing people grow in their faith over time. When you’re able to sit back after 10 years of doing a job like I had and see all the students that have come through KCD and gone onto fantastic things, it fills me with a sense of pride and thankfulness to God. I have missed this hands on ministry over the past year.
What are you enjoying most about your new role in Operations?
Being involved more strategically in the way all ministries in the church work, in order to enable more effective ministry and healthy working patterns for all the staff and interns who are involved in facilitating ministry at KCD. In my previous role I had an intimate understanding of how student ministry should run. Being able to take that understanding and translate it into helping other ministries work within church is really enjoyable.
Obviously the circumstances of this year have meant that the way ministry looks on the ground is dramatically different to any time in living memory. Having to make decisions that enable us as a church to adapt quickly has been stretching, and at times stressful, but for me extremely stimulating at a purely mental level.
When we think about church ministry and ministry leadership, we often think of preaching, worship leading, administering Communion and other ‘front-and-center’ activities. What would you say to someone who wants to serve the church but does not feel comfortable with those centre-stage ministries?
In my new role I have a ministry of enabling and empowering others. Without someone putting the jigsaw pieces together, our capacity to facilitate what we do from the front on Sundays and throughout the week would be very limited. It is a crucial and vital job. But I’ve also been able to get alongside many people in the last year to pastor folk in the informal interactions whilst doing tech on a Sunday through to checking in with staff in the week.
Where do you find your role of Operations Manager in Scripture? Do any passages or key ideas come to mind?
I’ve been reflecting on the story of Ezra-Nehemiah in recent months, when the people of God return after some time away from their “normal” forms and places of worship. There is complaining from those who remember the old ways, and there is a genuine place for grief in that. But behind the scenes there is a character, Nehemiah, who leads by directing, facilitating, serving, praying and communicating to reform some of what was, while leading the people into new things.
Finally, we know you have worked really hard this year leading behind the scenes during the pandemic. I am curious: what would be your ideal vacation if all restrictions were lifted?
Ideally I want to get over to Greece, to see some family who live out there (who incidentally used to come to KCD 20 years ago). Rach and I have had a couple of cancellations in the last 15 months and are both desperate to get back out there.
Thanks, Chris. We are so grateful for you and Rachel and your faithfulness in ministry! We hope you get away soon (but then come back to keep the jigsaw pieces in place!