Alan Preston is an Elder here at CCK- he is married to Marian and they have three grown-up children together. Alan tells Emily Sneyd his story, what his job entails from day-to-day, and why he is so passionate for Brighton to be a transformed City.
AP: Well! I grew up in Ireland and we were a family of Ulster Protestants-my mother and father were ministers as well as my grandfather and my great-grandmother, so I was of good pedigree! I knew the gospel and what it meant from a very early age, and I went to church four times every Sunday which was as normal as eating breakfast to me! I was in very much a bible- believing, evangelistic, fundamentalist, highly- conservative atmosphere. But, it got to a point when I was about 15, when I asked myself who was truly the Lord of my life and who took my time and attention and made my decisions. It was then that I felt a release of new life and became passionately fanatical for Jesus, and knew that He was who I wanted to live for.
ES: And what brought you to CCK?
AP: Are you sure you want the whole story- you might be here for hours!
ES: Haha! Ok, just give me the condensed version...
AP: Ok, well I went off to University in London to study physics, and joined a discipling movement while I was there. I then got the calling to do mission work after University, so I spent 2 years out in Africa for a mission organisation. I returned to England and was a production engineer for 5 years in Southampton where I got involved with a very fruitful student ministry where I got baptised in the spirit. Shortly after, I felt the call of God to come to Brighton, so I came to CCK and set up CCK students at the University of Sussex, while completing my PGCE. I got to evangelise and see people come to Christ, and some of those people are now currently in the Church so that’s really rewarding to see. I became an Elder of the Church in 1986.
ES: The year I was born! So what exactly does your role as Elder entail?
AP: Well, I’m one of the pastoral Elders here at CCK, and I suppose my responsibilities are split into several different compartments. The first one is that I am an Elder, which means I look after the flock as an entirety; I deal with marriage conflict and praying for the sick and things like that- in essence it means being a father to members of this Church. The second thing would be heading up the International Zone, which I love; there’s a lot of strategy involved there, in thinking of new ways to reach out to the international people of Brighton.
I’m also responsible for the front-door activities which include welcoming people as they come into the building for the Sunday meetings and overseeing the Connect teams and the Connect Area downstairs after every Sunday meeting, where people can find out about how to get involved with the different areas of Church life. I head up the Alpha and Beta courses which run throughout the year as well as doing the ‘Joining the church family’ days, baptisms and ‘Why CCK’ sessions where people can learn more about the history of CCK and what we’re about as a church.
The other part of my job I would label as ‘Miscellaneous’! I spend some time connecting with and skyping people in India, and I love to visit there when I can. I also visit and preach at other churches as well as doing some theological training. I also oversee the Impact team, for example- I love it, they’re a fantastic bunch!
ES: Yes, and mischievous as well, I hear...! Part of our mission statement here at CCK is: ‘In Brighton. For Brighton’. What makes you FOR Brighton?
AP: I LOVE Brighton & Hove and I love to see people saved and discipled. I firmly believe that mission starts with the place where God brought you. We need to be united in our thinking as churches in this City in trying to reach the people who don’t yet know Jesus. It’s important to do that, or you can end up in a situation where churches are just trying to grab Christians from other churches. My analogy is, if you visualise the whole Church as a cake, the cake isn’t growing in size; it’ll just be that some churches have a bigger proportion of the same cake. There needs to be a move from restoring the Church (although of course this is important) to restoring the City- and this is the phase that CCK is in as a Church, I think.
ES: And what else do you get up to when you’re not doing all of the above!?
AP: I have 3 grown-up children, so I’m a fully-fledged taxi driver in my spare time! I also love bird-watching with Marian and watching a bit of BBCnews24.
ES: Ok, last one: Name 3 people, past or present that you would invite to an imaginary dinner party.
AP: Ok...(thinks for a while) Number one would be W.P Nicolson- He was the last guy who brought revival to Belfast in 1920s; a truly awesome guy. The next one would definitely be the Apostle Paul; I’d ask him what on earth he was talking about! But seriously, that guy had vision and breadth to his Christian experience that no-one else had- I’d love to just sit him down and listen to what he has to say about our present time. The last person would be somebody totally outrageous, like Kathryn Kuhlman- I’d ask her why she was such an anointed nutter!!
ES: Thanks very much Alan, you’ve been very entertaining!