In previous years, Scott Pilgrim was the Executive Pastor at Crossway Baptist Church (Vic), and had senior roles in BaptistCare NSW-ACT, and Baptist Churches of NSW/ACT.
But what does Scott do now, and why does that matter to Tasmanian Baptists?
I was born and grew up in Newcastle. So, although I love living in Melbourne and it’s home, I will always be a “Newy boy”. It’s one of those types of places.
Newcastle was a great place to grow up, close to family, and actively engaged in sporting teams as a child/youth. Newcastle is home to some great beaches and so we spent a lot of time at the beach, then heading back to my grandparent’s home five minutes away. As a child, Newcastle was an industrial city – home to the BHP Steelworks, where my father and his father worked. These industrial roots kept the city grounded and authentic.
I lived in Newcastle through all my schooling days and then landed my dream job as a cadet journalist at The Newcastle Herald.
I grew up in what I now understand was a “God-fearing” home, rather than in a family that had a deep personal relationship with Jesus. In my teens, I started attending a Presbyterian Church. The ministers of the church – a young husband and wife ordained couple – influenced me greatly. They gave me opportunities to explore ministry at a young age and encouraged me in my journey with Jesus.
In my late teens I started attending a Baptist church and for the first time in my life met a male mentor figure, who clearly and passionately loved Jesus. He had a significant impact in my life, and during this period in the 1980s, Jesus became real to me!
A national spread
I am married to Megan, who is a nurse. We are a blended family (a Brady Bunch family for those old enough to know the show!) All up, Megan and I have eight children.
We have five adult children who live in NSW and the Northern Territory, aged from 31 to 20. And we also have three children with us in Melbourne, a 13-year-old daughter, a 12-year-old son, and a 10-year-old daughter. It’s delightful to see how our younger kids engage so regularly with the benefit of technology in staying connected to their older siblings.
After growing up in Newcastle, I moved around in my young adult years living in a few different places in NSW, working as a journalist. I then spent most of my adult years back in Newcastle.
Megan and I with our three youngest children moved to Melbourne at the beginning of 2017 as I took up the role of Executive Pastor at Crossway Baptist Church.
Melbourne is a great city to live in. [Better than Sydney, but don’t tell them that!] It has so many things you can do, and I love the culture and diversity of the city. Although it’s not the beaches of Newcastle, I love relaxing and walking along the bay and in the eastern suburbs where we live. We are spoilt with so many beautiful green spaces. And yes, the food is great – so many good options to choose from.
It’s also very much home for our younger kids. Melbourne is home for them and they all love playing basketball.
Scott’s work now
I serve as the Executive Director of Baptist Mission Australia, our movement’s international intercultural mission agency. In my position, I head up our work across the world, and our National Team is spread across Australia. And yes, I do travel a lot! I am currently writing from Norway where I am attending the Baptist World Alliance Gathering.
Most of my travel is to places well off the tourist maps, where our teams and partners serve in communities in Africa and Asia. And we’re growing our ministry in Australia, including our partnership with Citywide in Hobart. It’s good to see many different parts of the world – but it’s always great to get home to my family.
I’m privileged to lead a team – that’s the real joy of what I do. And I was invited to step into the position in a time of rapid change around the world and with Western mission agencies like ours needing to re-imagine and re-invent who we are and what we do. It’s why I resonate with the journey that you’re on as Tassie Baptists.
So, when people ask me to summarise what I do I like to use these images – team leader, pastor of global teams, cultural curator, Spirit-seeker and change agent. And I get to lead alongside a great team, including Suse and Caryn, two outstanding younger female leaders who serve with me on our Leadership Team.
A global perspective
I get excited when with others we can share in missional imagination and look to the Spirit to lead us in new ways. As well, I get excited that God would graciously invite me to share in his mission, in the joy of pursuing shalom in our broken world.
There are also wonderful possibilities of partnership and innovative collaborations, which will be at the future of global mission. And one last thing which excites me – I get encouraged every day that the organisation I lead only exists because of the partnership we have with Baptist people across the country.
The biggest challenge I have comes because we live in a rapidly changing world, and the face of world Christianity and international mission is experiencing seismic shifts. The days of the “West to the rest” are behind us, but we can get trapped in this traditional paradigm.
By the year 2030, 70% of all followers of Jesus will live in the global south, and we have the opportunity to explore what new polycentric partnerships will look like as we move ahead. We must face up to these changes in our world, while also celebrating all that God is doing among our current inspiring and passionate team members, serving around the world.
The wounded healer
My best piece of advice? Wow that’s a hard one. How about the learning from a number of authors, including Henri Nouwen, that a theology of brokenness helps us best understand leadership.
I love Nouwen’s image of the “wounded healer”. We can try to hide our wounds and scars, but I am so glad that I have come to see them as very much a part of who I am as a broken person, and that I am in absolute need for the Spirit to be at work in my life. And while he restores me, I am graced with the privilege of standing alongside other broken people, seeking to bring hope, love, acceptance and care.
Please pray for wisdom as we seek to discern the ways of the Spirit in this changing context. Pray for courage in the decisions we need to make. And I would value prayer for my on on-going health challenges as I navigate a pain management journey.
Short ‘n’ Sweet
I am looking forward to . . . A holiday with my wife in Italy!
I am worried about . . . followers of Jesus who can’t respect the views of others.
I am confident that . . . the Spirit is at work across the world!
I am joyful about . . . people passionately committed to missional re-imagination and justice!
I would like to change . . . where the Sydney Swans are on the table.
I am at my best when . . . I trust God, be myself and act courageously!
Baptist Mission Australia
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