“Evangelical” is our defining characteristic
by David Hull
David has served as Chaplain to Shebbear College, a Methodist School in North Devon and, prior to that, the minister of seven churches east of St Austell, Cornwall’s largest town. Hull is a trustee of the interdenominational mission organisation Share Jesus International and an Executive Member of Methodist Evangelicals Together, with responsibility for Theology and Research within the organisation. He co-hosts MET’s annual ‘Digging for Treasure’ expository preaching conferences and is an editor of three books about expository preaching. Hull, who has held a Decani Scholarship at Clare College, Cambridge, regularly lectures in Biblical Theology for the Peninsula Gospel Partnership, which he also supports as a Board member. Whilst Chaplain to Shebbear College, he also served as District Probationers’ Secretary and Methodist Oversight Tutor with the South West Ministry Training Course. For a number of years, he was part of the leadership team of Easter People and was founding chairman of ‘Love Cornwall’, an organisation uniting local churches in county-wide mission. With an interest in Theology and Music, Hull holds a Master of Letters degree from the University of St Andrews. He has been awarded a Certificate in Leadership Principles and Practice by the Research University of Leadership, Singapore and the University of Sydney, Australia; is an alumni of the International Leadership Institute, with whom he lectures on leadership around the UK and Europe, and is an Honorary Fellow at the University of Exeter.
Why did you agree to be nominated as the next Chair of MET?
It is a great honour to be nominated to succeed Paul Wilson as Chair. I have been a member of the Executive Committee for about ten years now and I have very much enjoyed the fellowship and the work we have been able to do together. I am convinced that MET has a valuable contribution to make to the life of the Methodist Church – and indeed the wider Christian Church – and it is a great privilege to have been asked to lead the organisation into the next chapter of our history. It is also a very exciting time in the history of MET, as Paul Wilson will be moving into the newly-created role of Development Worker, becoming our first full-time employee.
I was given quite a bit of warning that my name was going to be proposed as the next Chair, so I was very glad to have plenty of time to think and pray about it. In the end, the answer to the question is, ‘Because I believe this is God’s call’!
How ‘evangelical’ will MET be under your leadership?
‘MET’ is, of course, an acronym for ‘Methodist Evangelicals Together’. The only reason we have for existing as an organisation is the fact that we are evangelical. This is our defining characteristic. That is what motivates us. Evangelical theology is central to the vision of what we are striving towards and central to the contribution we are seeking to make to the wider Methodist Church. I am committed to MET remaining firmly evangelical throughout my time as Chair. If we lose that, we lose our reason for existing. Of course, it’s important to be clear about what we mean by such terms! In its commitment to evangelical theology, MET upholds the authority of Scripture as the Word of God, emphasises the centrality of the Cross as the only hope for the world, seeks spiritual renewal through the power of the Holy Spirit, promotes prayer for revival and endeavours to spread scriptural holiness through the proclamation of the evangelical faith, the latter, of course, being what the Deed of Union commits the whole Methodist Church to. These five commitments are our distinctive characteristics. We hold to these, I believe, not to be divisive, but because we believe this is how we can best make a positive contribution of the life of the Methodist Church. We are clear about what we stand for and open to working with others. What a privilege to be invited by our Lord to contribute to his great work as he builds his Church here on earth!
What is your vision for MET?
I believe that as we enter this new chapter in MET’s history, particularly as Paul takes post as Development Worker, we need to seek to clarify the vision that will guide our work over the next few years. That is something that we need to do together, but I certainly look forward to playing my part! There are, of course, a number of things that will continue to be central to our work: representing evangelicals and contributing to the life of the Methodist Church at every level; supporting evangelicals wherever they find themselves in Methodism; promoting prayer and Biblical preaching; and nurturing and building strong links with other evangelical organisations within Methodism and the wider Church. I also hope that we will develop a strategy to resource local churches and members in ministry and mission. Exciting times are ahead, I’m sure!
How will you relate to other groups within the Methodist Church?
I already enjoy relating to a number of different groups within the Methodist Church. As Methodist Oversight Tutor with the South West Ministry Training Course, I relate to the Connexional Tutors’ Group and sit on various committees both in that role and as District Probationers’ Secretary. I am a Trustee of Share Jesus International and have served on the leadership team of ECG. I very much enjoy working with others and am excited by the opportunity that this new role will bring to link with other groups. My ‘modus operandi’ will be to relate to others in a spirit of openness and cooperation whilst being clear and unashamed about where we stand.
How do you see British Methodism in the next ten years and what role do you see MET playing in that?
I was very much struck by something that Richard Bewes said at the last Digging for Treasure expository preaching conference: ‘some people refer to the age in which we’re living as the post-Christian era, but it could very well be the next pre-Christian era.’ We are, therefore, living in exciting times for the Church. Some institutional structures may be struggling in terms of resources, finance and personnel, but I believe the Lord never leaves us lacking. Rather, he gives us exactly what we need to do what he is calling us to do. I don’t believe it is part of my role to predict the future, but I do believe that together we can catch God’s vision of where he is calling us to go and what he is calling us to do. Of some things we can be certain. Firstly, the Lord has promised to build his Church, so that is assured and we can proceed in the light of our glorious future hope. God calls us to be a Church which honours him and which is enthusiastically committed to mission and discipleship. We are called to be ‘salt and light’ in society, making a positive difference and attracting others to join us by our vibrancy of life together. It is my conviction – and, I hope, the conviction of all of us who are part of MET – that evangelical theology equips us to do all of that, empowered by the Holy Spirit!
What three issues would you like to see MET focus on in the near future?
In no particular order:
Resourcing Biblical, primarily expository, preaching;
Encouraging and facilitating prayer for renewal in the church and revival in the nation; and
Resourcing local churches for mission and ministry.
What are your hobbies?
First and foremost, music. I love music – listening to it, making it, talking about it! I’m also interested in the academic field of music and theology, exploring the connections between faith and music. Although I don’t have much time for it at the moment, I am an archer. In my youth, I was the under-13s South West champion! Reading and travelling also feature on the list of things I enjoy. Perhaps it doesn’t really count as a hobby, but I devote much of my spare time at the moment to part-time PhD research into Rob Frost’s ministry and missiology. He was a good friend who had a great influence on my own ministry and I’m enjoying re-reading his books and papers.
METConnexion, Spring 2012, pp.18-19