For many years of my life I saw my identity as, to put it bluntly, a computer nerd. See, for instance, most of the old posts on this blog.
When I went to university, I studied computer science. I was at it long enough to leave with a Masters degree. Ask me some time about ownership in dynamic object-oriented programming languages.
Then I went out to work in industry. I did horrible things to cellphones, built build pipelines, and worked on a secure document management system. I’m very, very, very good at this stuff.
But I’ve chucked it all in for Jesus.
In the middle of the “being a nerd” story three big things happened.
I rediscovered my faith. I’d always gone to church and believed in God but hadn’t thought about how this affected what I did with my life. I started reading books. I joined a community mission group and would help run an after school programme for kids in the council flats. I went on a mission trip to the Philippines.
I met my now-wife Angela (at church!) and eventually realised that of course I was going to marry her and merely (ha) had to work up the courage to do it. Since then we’ve moved towns and had two children. Angela is very smart and studied all sorts of actually useful stuff at university, like criminology and psychology, not just nerd stuff like me.
Not too long after getting married, I received the call (from God!) to become a minister. I’ve done a theology degree, part-time, and finished that in 2017.
So we got our belongings loaded in a container, hopped on the ferry, and headed to the mainland.
I’m now the ministry intern, sole charge, at Point Presbyterian in Pleasant Point (pop 1,300) in rural South Canterbury.
I’ve got the next two years to work out what that means. There’s lots of work to be done. Leading worship, preaching, visiting, organising. But there’s something more.
I look out my window and see people who need God in their lives. And a community that needs the salt and light of Christians, the healing touch of Jesus, and a solid, thriving local church.
This is a part of the world that still knows how to do community. They’ll all come out for working bees on the steam rail museum. The local towns still have proper A&P shows.
But the town has 1,300 people. I’d hazard a guess that no more than 5% go to church in Point, some make the trek into Timaru, and of course most won’t go to church at all.
So what’s missing? What are we doing wrong? Are we so caught up in doing “church” together that we’ve let our gaze drift downwards and forgotten that an open door is only half the story?
Time for a lot more prayer, and a lot more listening.