In recent weeks, Hills Bible Church has welcomed a new full time pastor: Andrew Courtis. Andrew arrived in Melbourne with his family in early August. Readers will have noted the blog contribution from Andrew a matter of days ago, and I thought it would be appropriate to introduce Andrew by way of interviewing him. After speaking at length with his agent, and finally negotiating a fee and a 10 minute slot, I sat down with Andrew and lived up to my reputation as a hard-nut interrogator.** The results are below.***
Thanks Simon. We are new! As a family (married to Di with three children) we have recently moved from Sydney where I served as associate Pastor of St Johns Park Baptist Church and interim pastor of Smithfield Baptist Church. Prior to that, I ministered at Grace Community Bible Church in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
Tell us a bit about your background. Where did you grow up? What about your family, and church background?
I was born and raised in Melbourne and am from a family of ten children (I’m number four). Growing up I was taught the Scriptures but it wasn’t until my mid teen years when I come to saving faith in Christ. My church background has been Baptistic. Regarding my schooling, I moved to Adelaide when I was 18 to undertake theological studies (BMin) and it was there I meet my wonderful wife Di (who originates from the great city of Geelong). [Interviewer nods approvingly regarding Geelong.] In addition to that I did a teaching degree (GradDipEd) and have just recently completed my masters with the Australian College of Theology (MATh).
When did you feel called to enter Christian ministry?
Soon after my conversion (around 16), my dad gave me a box of audiocassettes of sermons. After a few months of listening to good preaching and studying God’s Word, I was compelled to go to Bible College to prepare for pastoral ministry. The Lord provided a few opportunities for me to start preaching when I was 16 and 17 in Presbyterian and Baptist Churches. I began to learn the seriousness of preaching God’s word and the need to be faithful in this task. When I was 18 Dad put me in the car and drove me to Adelaide (my parents were very supportive) so as to enroll me in full-time theological studies at Adelaide College of Ministries.
What would you say are your ‘theological distinctives’? Labels aren’t always popular, but perhaps you could give yourself one or two?
As a Christian I am committed to faithfully studying, applying and explaining God’s Word. In doing this there are some distinctives that I believe are indeed biblical. Recognising that labels are not always popular, they can be helpful. For this reason, I would unashamedly call myself an affirmer of the doctrines of grace, a Baptist, and a Premillennialist. However, my primary concern is to be a man of the Word and always committed to what the text of Scripture says.
Who are the most influential figures in your life and ministry?
Looking back over the year, the Lord has graciously brought many godly individuals into my life (some I have met, others I have read or listened to). It is too difficult to provide an exhaustive list knowing that I would miss out on some. But here are some figures that have had a profound influence on my understanding of Scripture: Charles Spurgeon, Louis Berkhof, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, S Lewis Johnson, Iain Murray, John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, Albert Mohler, and R C Sproul.
There’s a strong ‘reformed’ theme in your answers. Do you see reformed theology as important for the church in Melbourne?
I do. The reason I believe this to be the case is because reformed theology stresses the authority of God’s Word. It stresses a high view of God (His sovereignty over all things). It exalts the glory and person of God and reveals the power of God in salvation. These things are biblical and these things must be taught and proclaimed. This, of course, is necessary for every city.
What are your pet theological topics? I see you have a post coming up on heaven, and you’ve done a thesis on Revelation 20. Are you an eschatology nerd, like me?
My greatest passion is studying God’s Word and preaching through it systematically in an expository manner. However, as I do that I am always confronted with theological topics in the text and as a result, some of them become what you call “pet theological topics.” This, of course, can change depending on what I am studying at the time. For me, these are: The Doctrine of Christ, the Doctrine of Salvation, the Doctrine of Scripture, and the Doctrine of Last Things. Am I an eschatology nerd? I do wear glasses and love the doctrine of end times, so perhaps I fit that description! Having recently spent around fifty Sundays in my former church in Sydney working verse-by-verse through the book of Revelation my love and passion for eschatology have majorly increased. My desire for heaven has also greatly expanded. I am Premillennial, but what I am most passionate about is the return of the King and being with Him and like Him when He is revealed (1 John 3:2)!
What is your vision for our church going forward?
It is my privilege to be called of the Lord to serve as pastor of Hills Bible Church. For this reason I view my call and ministry with great seriousness. My desire for our church is that it would be a church that is committed to the word of God. I desire to see God’s people at Hills mature in Christ (Col. 1:28), serving Christ
(Romans 14:18) and proclaiming Christ (Col. 1:28 a). As we submit to His word and grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, we entrust ourselves to the One who promised to build His church (Matt. 16:18). By His grace, we will make an impact on our city and beyond to His glory. I would value your prayers as I strive to be faithful in this task.
** Pastor Andrew does not actually have an agent, and the interview was conducted via email without any fee or delay. I have never conducted an interview like this before, and therefore have no reputation to uphold.
***Minor updates to this interview were made in 2020.