An Interview with David Jamieson

Editor’s Notes: David Jamieson (DJ) has been senior pastor at Church in the Valley for fifteen years. In this interview he sits down with Pastor John Masigan (JM), pastor of the Kamloops, Barriere and Clearwater district, to understand how leadership works in a church that is known for its Acts of Kindness. This is a transcript of that interview.

JM:      It’s a privilege to hang out with you because you’re one of the busiest guys that I know, especially in this conference.  I do have a couple of questions for you. How did you end up becoming a pastor?

DJ:       I grew up in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and I was baptized on September the twelfth, 1981. I attended a camp meeting, and Elder Jerry Karst was the conference president in Newfoundland at the time, and during one of his sermons at camp meeting he asked if God was moving on the heart of anyone to be a teacher, a pastor, so on.  The next thing, I felt my body moving forward and going down to the altar call, feeling that God was calling me into the ministry.

JM:      Oh, wow.

DJ:       Shortly after that, the conference gentleman encouraged me to enroll at Canadian Union College and enter into the ministry.  My grandmother, who had been an Adventist for most of her life, had been praying for me to become a pastor. And so that was my leading into pastoral ministry.

JM:      So how did you get to where you are today? 

DJ:       I was an associate past0r in Marystown, Newfoundland, a little church of 30 people.  The lead pastor was so overwhelmed with what was happening there that he burned out, and I became the lead pastor, the building contractor, the bulletin secretary, the treasurer.  And then the conference wanted us to have an evangelistic series, which we did.  And no one came.

             I began to ask myself, ‘can I do this for forty years?’  And I came to the conclusion, ‘no.’ So we began to innovate and dream and vision and to look for a better way to package the most wonderful message in the entire world. That led us into this kind of a vision and journey here.  My goal has always been to see an ‘Acts Chapter Two’ church in my lifetime.

JM:      So how, how do you lead Church of the Valley toward this vision that you have accomplished at this moment?

DJ:       I've been following a step by step journey in ministry, and we have utilized those steps here and in previous churches that we’ve pastored in.

Step One

             The first step in that evangelistic process is that the pastor needs to own, model and prioritize his relationship with God. God has to lay a vision on the pastor. 

Step Two

The next step in the process is to be used by God to instill that evangelistic vision and those values in the congregation. 
For example we have put a banner up every year, and it’ll say “2002 – Our Year of Discovery,” or, you know, “2007 – Our Year of Adventure.”  And there’s nothing on that banner, just those words.

JM:      So year 2016, what does Church in the Valley’s year look like this year?

DJ:       We’ve named 2016 our Year of New Beginnings.  Brand new beginnings all around us in this facility, and brand new vision to come on stream in 2016 as we tweak it move forward. 

             Every time there’s a baptism, every time someone passes away, every time there’s a sermon series or a special event we highlight that in the banner. Every baptism is a dove with someone’s name on it.  And then at the end of the year we’ll spend 30 minutes in the worship service and highlight everything that God has done in the congregation.

JM:      I think that differentiates people from just regular pastor to extraordinary pastor.

DJ:       It’s not the difference between an ordinary pastor and an extraordinary pastor.  That’s not the issue at all.  It’s understanding how to cast vision.  Every single week in this congregation for 15 years now we get up in the middle of the worship service, and we would say, “Good morning, and welcome to the Aldergrove Adventist Church, where we believe in sharing the Christ who cares together, with lost men and women and boys and girls in Aldergrove.

Step Three

The next step in the process for us was to innovate high-impact outreach events.  I find that when a pastor moves into a congregation the members just see him or her as another pastor that’s just showing up, and they’re going to be there for three or four years and they’re going to be gone.  They don’t really believe that anything is going to happen. 

             A pastor has to be used by God to demonstrate to the congregation that if they step forward in faith and they innovate a high-impact event that the church is able to move forward under the banner of Christ successfully.  So we’ll have a Police Appreciation Day or a Firefighters Appreciation Day, and we’ll invite the mayor to come, and the federal politicians, the provincial politicians, and community people to come.  And it’ll be the largest worship service ever in the history of that church.  And when that happens, it changes the morale of people, they begin to say, wait a minute, something different is happening here, and they begin to shift from “seeing is believing” to “believing is seeing.”  And it’s at that point that they’re willing to follow this God-given vision and actually begin to believe that something’s going to happen.

JM:      So, Pastor Jamieson, how did you start your vision for this church?  And I know there’s a beautiful story behind this facility, and it all started supposedly in a restaurant. 

DJ:       It started in a Tim Horton’s restaurant.  We met a gentleman who was selling some land, and it was quite expensive, $2.8 million dollars.  We didn’t have any money.  We offered him $2.2 million without really having any money, and a tax receipt, and he took all of that.  He said he would sell us the property.

             Around the same time another congregation merged and asked if they could merge with us, and they sold their church building for $1.2 million, and we quickly raised $1.0 million in about three months and bought the property.  Then we began a journey to build on that property, and the government of British Columbia decided that they needed that piece of property for a park-and-ride and rapid busing transit system, and so they basically expropriated the property.  And it took us five years to receive our funds, but God was leading the whole time, because every year that they waited, the pricing for land continued to rise.  And so when we sold the property we actually sold it to them for $7.2 million.

JM:      Oh, wow.

DJ:       One of the leaders of our church put an ad in the newspaper asking if there’s someone who’d like to sell their land to the Aldergrove Adventist Church, and to our Acts of Kindness ministry, so we could expand both.  And a couple phoned back and said, “We want to sell you the land.”  And he said, “How much?”  And they said, “$1.45 million.”  And we said, “How many acres?”  And they said, “Five point one.” And we bought it faster than you could say John Masigan.

             So we’ve had the privilege of building this facility now on this property.  But it was an eight-year journey to get here.

JM:      One of the things that fascinates me is that there’s just so many moving parts in this church.  As a lead pastor, how do you lead when it comes to Acts of Kindness, and Fusion, and Connect Now.  And you have to maintain and make sure this building is going.  There’s just so many things happening and you know if it was me, I would probably ask for a smaller church, because it is a lot of things to manage all at the same time.  How do you lead at this moment in your ministry?

Step Four

DJ:       Well, the fourth step in the process, interestingly enough, is to recruit evangelistic champions.  The pastor can’t do it alone. The pastor has to be led by God to find individuals, as many as he can in the congregation, who can become champions of the cause. You begin to cast vision more deeply with these champions, and they become leaders themselves. 

Step Five

The next step in the process is that you begin then developing diversified evangelism teams.  These evangelistic champions become team leaders of teams.  And so we have an extreme home repair team. We also have a Breakfast Club and a worship arts team.  We have a cars for moms’ team.  We have leaders leading each team. 

Step Six

             Now you need to invite everyone in the congregation to be a part of a volunteer revolution.  And you invite them to come into these teams. You can watch the ministry fair here on Sabbath morning. I’ll be preaching and inviting people to now join some of these teams so that we can expand them and have more people in the congregation involved in reaching out to lost men and women and boys and girls all around us.

A volunteer revolution is when you’re inviting everyone to be involved. We want a hundred percent of our members to be involved in ministry in some way, shape or form in this congregation, because as a Christian, as a follower of Christ, it’s not just lip service, it’s life service.  It’s not just worshiping on a Sabbath morning, it’s living out your experience with Christ weekly. 

JM:      The way you’re pastoring is going to be very different from a lot of other pastors, because of how you’ve created this.  So what are you doing as a pastor to lead this charge? 

DJ:       My role is to relentlessly cast a vision to the congregation to be outward-focused, to seek the lost for Christ.  That’s what we’re about.  And to do the preaching, to be the lead pastor, for board meetings, finance, school board, those types of things.  I still have a large role in the visitation of members who are in hospital or in need, and I certainly utilize my associate pastors to take care of some of that, because as the church gets larger it becomes less feasible to be able to cover the bases.  In fact, it becomes almost impossible.  And to just continue to try and reach evangelistic champions and to build more teams.

JM:      You know, there’s been rumors around something about you and an airplane and this building.

DJ:       We knew way back around 2005, which is ten-plus years ago, that we needed to build a new facility because we outgrew the other one.  So we decided to do some research, took a team of about eight individuals to select churches in the United States, Adventist and non-Adventist churches that were using innovation and creativity in ministry.  We visited those churches and learned an immense amount about ministry and how a building could be used for ministry.

             And on the way back, three of us were sitting together on the flight.  We asked ‘does God wants us to do this?’, ‘does God wants us to do that?’.  We didn’t really have any paper, and so the stewardess brought us some napkins. And when we got off the flight, this was going to be our building plan.

             So when we met with the architect again we brought him the napkin, and said this is what we want to build.  And he looked at it and he said, “You serious?”  You know, because a napkin doesn’t look too impressive to an architect.  But he essentially took that napkin and built a building quite similar to it.

JM:      You’re telling me that this building was dreamed up on a napkin?

DJ:       Yes, absolutely.

JM:      Now that you’ve hit your goal, what is next?  How are you going to continue on casting vision and casting excitement and casting these great things for your congregation here in Church in the Valley?

DJ:       Well, you have to reinvent yourself as a leader and you have to tweak the model or the vision phrase.  And every three years, in my opinion, you have to recalibrate the vision.

             And so for us here now, we’re no longer the Aldergrove Adventist Church.  We are Church in the Valley, a Seventh-day Adventist church.  We’ve been tweaking our motto, and we are about to revision again.  Our three-year term for vision ended in 2015, and so I’m already talking with some of our leaders about a vision summit, a vision weekend again, to recalibrate the vision for the next three years.

             And personally—and I’ve shared this with the congregation twice—personally, my goal in the ten years of ministry that I have left if God sees that he wants me to stay in this congregation, is to see this facility fill up twice.  So it seats 900.  We would like to see 1,800 men and women and boys and girls attending here as soon as can possibly happen. We currently had last Sabbath 580 here.  So let’s say there’s an average of 600.  Our vision is to see another 1,200.

JM:      Wow. Nothing’s impossible with God [laughs]. Are there any other steps that we’ve missed?

Step Seven

DJ:       The next step in the process is to anchor the new approaches into the culture of the church.  And so we have developed a cyclical calendar so that the congregation knows that every May we’re having an EHR, which is an Extreme Home Repair, like the television show Extreme Home Makeover.  So far we’ve done 15 houses for families, single moms, or families that have experienced a tragedy or their home is just dilapidated and falling down, the roof is leaking—we’ve done 15.  It’s every May.

             We have another team that’s involved in their single moms’ oil change every April and every October.  And we have other ministries that are happening five days a week, like the breakfast club, so it’s ongoing in a public elementary school.  We’re doing the breakfast club at a public elementary school five days a week, and we have a team of individuals that are involved in that ministry.

             And so we anchor all of these new ministries into the calendar of the church.  We do a dramatic musical at Easter, a dramatic musical at Christmas.  And so the church becomes accustomed to a well-organized, outward-focused, evangelistic, visionary program to reach the lost, and it’s all anchored into the calendar.

JM:      And then all hundred percent of the members can choose an anchor point where they feel like they belong and where they can best serve the church.

DJ:       And the interesting thing about it is that we don’t do a lot of training. We try to get people involved in their area of passion, with the skillset that they already have, the knowledge that they already have, with the gifts that they already have, and we just invite them to get on a team and use those gifts.  So believe it or not, we had a whole lot of people that were interested in golf.  And we said, let’s golf for Jesus.  And so we got those golfers to start a golf tournament every year to raise money for our Acts of Kindness community services initiatives.  And, you know, in the last 11 years, they’ve been able to raise over $500,000.

JM:      Oh, wow.

DJ:       So whatever it is that people are interested in doing, whatever they have a passion to do, I’ve discovered that they’ll trample the pastors to get out of the way so that they can use the passions that they have and the skillsets that they have.  I don’t need to train someone to hammer and saw at an EHR.  They can train me.

JM:      Yeah.

DJ:       I don’t need to need to train a mechanic to change the oil in someone’s car at the Single Moms Oil Change.  They already know how to do it.  And they have a passion to do that, maybe more so than to stand up and preach.

JM:      How do you find the balance between seeking those who are lost and meeting the needs of your congregation in a spiritual sense?  Sometimes the people who are lost want to be a part of the church service, but as you know, in our Adventist world, there, it seems like in order to do it you must first be baptized, or you must be first gone through at least a set of Bible studies.  

DJ:       I believe that the inward and outward focus go hand in hand, just like a set of gloves.  And yet, to be quite honest with you, my focus has always tipped toward an outward focus.  Why?  Well, I’ve had the privilege of being influenced by people like Mark Finley, Henry Feyerabend, Russell Burrill, all of these individuals who had a total passion to reach the lost.  And so that was my ministerial training.  And so any congregation that I’ve pastored has had an evangelistic focus. 

             And at the same time, we’ve recognized, you have to be able to minister to people inside the congregation as well.  So along with our Acts of Kindness community services ministry for folks outside we’ve developed a Helping Hands ministry to assist people with needs inside the congregation. 

             We’ve tried to balance both approaches, but there is no question that, for me as a pastor, I believe our mandate is Matthew 28:19-20, “go ye therefore into all the world and preach the gospel unto all nations, and to baptize people for Christ.” That becomes our driving force.  I believe if we have a focus that is inward, we do settle.  And we do get comfortable, and we do church for us.  And it becomes more of a social club rather than what Christ intended it to be, which is an army of disciples who are going to come when the rabbi says come, stay when the rabbi says stay, and go when the rabbi says go.

Q          So how do you find that balance of a father, a husband, a friend and a pastor?

DJ:       My whole principle for life and ministry, as simple as it may sound, ‘God first, family second, church third.’  I know that sounds trite. But that’s what I try to live out.  To give you an example, I was in the office as a conference president at the age of 37.  I was traveling to various committee meetings and gone for maybe ten to fourteen days all at one time.  When I returned home, my family had been sick with a flu bug, my wife had taken all four kids to the hospital, and the doctor said, “Where’s your husband?”  “Well, he’s traveling.” 

When I got back we agreed that we would bring it up at our weekly family council.  So at the council they said “Dad, you know, we want you to go back into the pastoral ministry.”  And I said, “Let’s take a vote.”

DJ:       And my youngest was just several months old, so my wife held up his hand, I guess, or the kids did; we had the vote, and it was five to one that I go back into pastoral ministry.  I was the only one who voted to stay in administration.

             I’m giving that story as an example that when it came to my role, God first, family second, and office third.  So I left administration and moved here. I thought I would be here three or four years; I’ve been here fifteen years.  My youngest son has gone kindergarten through twelfth. The family has stability, balance and strength.

             For me personally, when you’re involved in a building project and pastoring at the same time, and doing a little bit of traveling and things, you’ve got two jobs for the price of one.  So I do long for the building to be completed so that we can focus totally on ministry.  We strive to have a relationship with the Lord every day. 

             And if you can involve your children in the life of the church at a young age and make it fun it makes an incredible difference. When they turn 17, 18, 19, 20 and older, if it’s been fun, if it’s been real, if they know that family is a priority, they remain in love with the Lord and stay in the church.

JM:      You just talked about how ministries should be fun, but some people see ministry be like solemn. How do you deal with that kind of attitude?

DJ:       Yes, ministry has to be fun.  If a pastor can minister out of his/her area of passion, skillset, experience and knowledge, as well, then he or she is able to avoid a lot of the issues of burnout, of working too hard because when you’re doing what you enjoy doing, when you are working in your area of passion, you have strength to be able to carry out ministry and to enjoy ministry.

JM:      Well, thanks, Uncle Dave, this is a pleasure.  I may need to watch this again, because I think I’m going to learn a lot from our conversation today.  So thank you so much.

DJ:       All right, God bless.