Classic cars and clergy collars – interview with Adam Gompertz

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Helen Harwood: You’ve told me: “I never thought I was Pioneer material; I remember a friend recommending that I look at Pioneer ordination training, and I wanted to run a mile.” Can you outline for us how things changed for you, please?

Adam Gompertz: I never thought I would be Pioneer material, I think I had an idea in my head that I would prefer the traditional vicar’s role – it was a role I grew up with as my dad is in the clergy (and now my mum and wife too). It all changed when I was at theological college – battling the grief of leaving a career in car design, and getting a sense that I just did not fully fit the role of a vicar.

Adam sketches a classic at at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Photo by Josh Rubin

 

I was told by an understanding tutor that “God does not do waste” and so I started thinking how I might use what I had done in the past but in a more formal ‘ministry’ capacity – REVS [tagline: “Cars. Life. Restoration.”] is the answer (although it’s still very much developing).

To quote you again: “I love the creativity that being a Pioneer allows; for the chance to do things differently, to think outside of the box: things like running a classic car breakfast club.” Can you tell me some more about this and also if your ministry is purposefully looking to engage with men (who are often left outside of regular church circles) or if this is just a happy coincidence?

I don’t know if my ministry is looking to engage men, lots of women like cars too – and own some very nice cars. I think I am called just to be where people who don’t go to church hang out – and for me that’s at car shows. Yes more men appear to get involved – but I also know women and whole families who are involved – old cars tend to attract a large cross section of people.

As a designer you have to be creative, as a Pioneer you need to be also. I love the idea of brainstorming what REVS can do to enter the context of the classic car scene – of thinking outside the box. The very fact that a bloke with a clergy collar is at big classic car shows is a surprise enough for some people.

Holy Spirit of Ecstasy? Adam sketched by Alex Innes

You’ve told me you believe that God does not do waste! Being a car designer in the past has served as a good foundation for your pioneer ministry. Are there other ways God has not wasted things in your life?

I think then it’s always good to look back and see where God has shaped and moulded us – I have had dark times of battling anxiety and depression but God has brought me through so far – and this has also enabled me to better understand the struggles others have. It is great being able to chat about car stuff, and then get on to deeper issues – both with a level of integrity because I have been there too.

How did you come to study with us at CMS? And you mentioned that you find being a pioneer can be exciting, frightening, great fun and at times very lonely. Has CMS been able to help you in any way as you take “…the risk of being misunderstood, re-framing the way we talk about God, and re-thinking the language we use.”?  

I heard about CMS through others who had been on the course, and it took a while to pluck up the courage to apply – what if I was not a real pioneer? When I came here I found a home – people who understood me, who were asking the same questions about how to reach people in different contexts. I love the fact that CMS is a safe place to ask all the challenging questions about the future of the church – it’s also a place to dream – and that is the other thing I love about being here.

John chapter 15 verse 5, “without me you can do nothing” is important to you, can you give us some examples how you are reminded of this in your pioneering?

“Without me you can do nothing” – I think I am reminded of this every day – when it seems all too big for me, or when I wonder whether things will work out, will people see this as a waste of time? I am not exactly the most courageous person, so doing all this can really feel out of my comfort zone. Also how do you speak of Jesus to people who are perhaps suspicious of the church or think it outdated? I constantly need God to give me the words. I think the best I can say is that despite my efforts God appears to be bringing fruit from the REVS ministry.

How can we pray for you?

Please pray for wisdom, for the sense of knowing God’s direction, and to keep it all grounded in him and not just feeding my love of old cars.

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