Interview in England
Interview of Scott Thomas in England
Scott was interviewed by Yohaan Philip while he was at CCK in Brighton. Below are the interview notes.
YP: Can you tell me a bit about yourself, Scott?
ST: I grew up in a fundamentalist type of church as a young man. It was kind of empty because it didn't seem to be consistent with where scripture was going. So when I went to Bible College, I questioned everything - why things were done the way they were, why certain rules still remained intact? The college president said not to worry about it. He said to focus on Jesus and the rest will come. So I began to live my life around that principle and it all began to make sense. A lot of the rules still didn't make sense, but following Jesus did. So that's how it all began. I began youth ministry at the age of 19. I was a youth pastor for 10 years and then a lead pastor for 16 years. In 2003, I attended an Acts 29 boot camp. Prior to that I always felt out of place as a pastor. I couldn't relate to a lot of pastors as I felt they were more concerned about their jobs rather than reaching the lost. So when I found Acts 29, it was a perfect mix - finally I had found my match! It was all Jesus, all mission all through the local church. In the very first session when the director got up to talk, I felt the Holy Spirit say clearly and very strongly, "You're supposed to do this." I kept this to myself and eventually came into Acts 29. I was on the Board of Acts 29 and when the Director left, Pastor Mark asked if I could take it on. I had to respond to what the Holy Spirit had said to me 3 years earlier. So for the past 3 years we've been helping young guys to start churches, establish them and strengthen them. It's all for His glory.
Scott standing just outside of Brighton next to the English Channel
YP: Tell me a bit about your family.
ST: I will have been married for 28 years this summer. I’ve got 2 boys - a 20 year old and a 16 year old. They're both serving the Lord. My oldest son works for Acts 29. He's Tyler Powell's assistant. He is very intelligent and will probably lead through a visible leader as opposed to being a point person. My younger son will probably be leading something. He's going in that direction. On his first day at Kindergarten, I asked him to be the leader. And at the end of the day, the teacher who said that he had wanted to be first in everything - to go out to break, to eat - called me in saying that his father said that he was the leader! He has grown considerably as a leader since!
YP: You mentioned during the meeting with the CCK men that you got to experience at close quarters Mark Driscoll the family man, and that was something to be emulated. We have seen Mark the preacher, but can you tell us more of Mark the family man.
ST: First of all, I would say that being a preacher is a privilege, not a right. And before you can be a preacher you have to be a pastor. And that takes a lot of work. A lot of young men have this idolatrous idea of being a preacher because they want to preach to thousands of people and they don't realize what goes on behind it. It’s hard work to be a shepherd of a flock. Mark is first and foremost a pastor who wants to reach people. That's his passion. And he does that through the best way he is gifted - communicating. He tries to communicate to reach lost men.
Where I’m really impressed with Mark is the fact that he loves his kids. I love to see him and his wife hold hands, her just really paying close attention to him, and him responding to her. He lights up when his kids come into the room. That man, the character of the man in his own home, really makes him worth listening to.
YP: Thanks for using that pastor - preacher illustration. I find that quite helpful! During the meeting, you mentioned how Mars Hill is so predominantly Jesus centered. What's been helpful in shaping that underlying foundation for you?
ST: It's really ultimate that we have Jesus as the centre of everything we do. The gospel really is at the centre of everything. The person and work of Jesus Christ and how He has saved us and redeemed us from our sins is the metanarrative of the entire Bible. It must be the communication that we have from the beginning to the end - the thing that we're saying and everything we do. Sadly today, the Bible is being used, or even more crudely, it’s being raped to help build the Church, instead of being the focus of Jesus. So being Jesus centered means that everything we do is centered on the redemptive work of Jesus. Keeping that the very focus of everything, we turn it into building the Church. There's always a danger of Christians becoming insular and wanting to build the Church as an institution rather than building up Jesus Christ, the One for whom we're building the Church.
YP: On the subject of building the Church, what are some of the key features that you look for when you develop and assess church leaders and planters?
ST: First, we'd look for a man who has spiritual vitality. A man has to lead from within. He's a gospel-transformed man and he's going to lead others. That's what's got to drive him. It's not that he's a pastor preacher, but he's called to transform lives by the power of the gospel.
Then it comes to a man who has a real calling on his life. He understands that he has been called by God to do a certain work. Acts 17 talks about how God has appointed certain men at certain times to do certain work. And that calling has to keep him secure especially during difficult times. We realize that we can't be just called ourselves, but a group of men, church leaders, commend a man. Acts 13 says that Paul and Barnabas were set apart by the Holy Spirit, and the church commended them and sent them out to do that work.
Additionally, a man has to have theological clarity. So he has to be very teachable. He has to understand what the gospel is all about and he has to be able to communicate that quite well.
Also, in a pastor’s home he has to know what it means to be a man of God. In his home, he has to live in the authority and identity of Christ and from that we have instruction and discipline. The foundation of that is Jesus Christ. It's all wrapped in worship of Jesus. And a man has to lead that. He lives in the foundation of Christ, for the glory of God and under His authority and identity of Jesus.
YP: This is your second time in Brighton. I hope you've enjoyed coming back?
ST: We just barely got in and went straight to work, so I've hardly seen anything yet. But more than Brighton, I've been impressed with the development of CCK and seeing it move forward. It's exciting to see issues that were identified a year ago being addressed and brought into fruition. It's not so much about seeing Brighton, but the work that's being done in Brighton through CCK.