Grayson Jones Interview: Part One
As a member of the AOG's National Leadership Team (NLT), Grayson Jones is responsible for the overall leadership of the London and East Area. At Stronger Together 2016 it was announced that John Partington will begin to transition the role of National Leader of AOG GB to Grayson over the next twelve months. In the first of this two-part interview, we sit down with Grayson to discuss these matters.
You've recently switched roles in the NLT from the leadership of the North Area to that of the London and East Area – I wonder how those two areas differ from each other, and what's your experience of this change?
The North clearly is different to London in every sense of the word. London is the centre of the universe in a lot of ways: commerce, ethnicity, diversity... all of that type of thing. Having said that, the North has Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle – some strong centres. But the difference is that you've got the City of London, which isa nation of its own in some ways, and then around it you've got the East, which is filled with other cities. So you've got a bit of the North in some ways, and then you've got the centre, the City of London.
For me I think the main thing I look at is that church is the same wherever it is, and that leadership is the same wherever it is. So people sometimes say, 'If you go in there, how are you going to manage the differences?' But for me I don't know that there are differences: people are people, leaders are leaders, and the Kingdom is the Kingdom. So we've got to build churches, help leaders and facilitate growth. So in some ways there will be a difference in how we do that, but that's the same if you're looking at a rural church in West Yorkshire, a Church in Bradford or a church in a city like Manchester.
I think there'll be a lot of cross-pollination,a lot of things we've learned in the North that we can take down to London and the East, and a lot of things we've learned just through doing ministry life that's applicable to leaders across the board. So I'm quite looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to the challenge. I think for me, London being in the position of where it is in the world, it needs to have strong churches, needs to have a strong influence and needs to have a big voice. And so I'm looking forward to trying to raise the profile and move things forward in that way.
What are some of the specific cultural challenges that you think churches in the London and East area will have to negotiate in the near future?
I think there will be strong cultural issues in every group of churches. It’s not just a church, but there are groups of churches, different ethnicities and a different spectrum of churches. But more than that you get different leaders – some are from one stream and others are from another stream. Others align themselves to different groups, so you’ve got a mish-mash right across the board.
But having said that, you’ve got the same in Yorkshire or in Manchester. You’ve got numbers of people coming from African continents and Eastern Europethat are hitting right across the board. There’s 10,000 Poles in Doncaster for instance. So it’s all about different mixes [of people] going on in any church you go into now. I think the ethnic challenge of how we amalgamate all these people in the local church and bring them together, I think that’s just a modern day context now for us.
So in some ways I understand that it’s much bigger in London, but it’s what we do a lot across the board anyway. Go to any zone meeting or any area meeting across the nation and most – slightly different in Scotland and maybe Wales – but across England I think you find that there’s lots of different representation, so we're used to dealing with the different challenges of mixing people together from different backgrounds. Although I think that’s part of the challenge, it’s also part of the opportunity to learn from different people and to do things in different ways – we all bring something to the table. And it’s learning how to bring the best of that to make the future look better than it is.
At the AOG national conference this year, John Partington announced that he'd be transitioning the national leadership of AOG GB to you over the course of the next 12 months. Can you tell us why you accepted this role, and what excites you about it?
Obviously the role of being the next National leader of AOG is an incredible privilege and opportunity. From the first moment I committed my life to Jesus I wanted to serve Him. I wanted my life to be used by Him in any way he saw fit. Today I still feel the same and the reason I accepted this opportunity is that I believe it is of God. I genuinely believe that for me this is the will of God for my life at this time and so I was eager to accept it.
Having been involved with the NLT for the past fiveyears under John’s leadership, I know that serving at national level is often challenging and difficult. Having said that I believe that God’s grace is sufficient for all things and that we have an incredible opportunity to build for the future.
The AOG is positioned better than ever before to become the movement God wants it to be. We have an opportunity to encourage leaders to grow, churches to grow and to release new leaders to plant new churches like never before. I am excited at building on the foundations John Partington has laid and seeing something significant happening in our nation and across the world. I really do believe the best is yet to come!