AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Trevor Neill

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Trevor, how long have you been writing and how did you get started?

My dad was an English teacher and I grew up in a home where words and books were important, so I’ve always enjoyed putting pen to paper. Several years ago, I experimented with blogging as a way of working through ideas and then, on sabbatical in 2017, I took things one stage further with this first book.

Bridging the Gaps addresses a broad range of contentious issues – why do you think you were drawn to them?

As a minister, I am constantly struck by what seems, to me, to be a distance between the things we believe (or think we ought to believe) about God and faith, and life as we experience it. A few years ago, while leading a church through the establishment of a couple of community projects I felt an increasing sense that our theology wasn’t quite big enough for what we saw God doing among us. The ideas which are explored in Bridging the Gaps emerged during that time, and I’ve been continually thinking them over ever since.

How does your faith impact upon your political beliefs?

Politics was discussed at home just as much books when I was growing up. I’m still the product of those early conversations, but that thinking has also been greatly influenced by my faith. If we believe that ‘Jesus is Lord’ then He has to have a bearing on every part of our lives.

Much of my experience in ministry has been in an area of deprivation where I’ve seen the impact that decisions made by the powerful have on the poorest and most vulnerable. My faith has been front and centre to how I’ve understood and tried to respond to what I’ve seen happening around me.

Has the process of writing Bridging the Gaps impacted your thinking?

I think that constant refinement of ideas is part of the process of writing. It’s one thing to think thoughts out loud, but another to set them down on paper. As I write, I constantly need to ask myself how this idea or that sentence will bear the scrutiny of a reader, and what impact it will have on them. Working on Bridging the Gaps has been a process of clarifying what principles are most important to me.

Did you get input from friends and family for the book, or was it something you felt easiest to work on alone?

Some of the ideas found in earlier chapters of the book were shared with friends, and also tried out on the audience when I spoke at conferences. But I have to confess to being an extreme introvert, so most of the book was written alone.

What do you hope readers will take away from Bridging the Gaps?

I think the best spiritual writing impacts the heart as much as the head, bringing the right combination of stretching ideas as well affirmation and encouragement. I hope that sometimes readers will say, ‘I haven’t seen it that way before, and I need to explore this further.’ But I also hope there might be times when they think, ‘That gives me the words to describe what I suspected all along but didn’t feel able to say.’

How did you find the publication process?

The process of editing and proof reading has felt challenging at times, there’s an inevitable sense of vulnerability when what you’ve worked on for so long is being refined through the detailed feedback of others. I feel very grateful for the impact of the Instant Apostle team, who have been so gracious and supportive while also offering a rigorous critique which I know has improved the book.

What one piece of advice would you want to give to a new writer?

Expect some setbacks but keep believing. If you feel that what’s on your heart needs to be shared with others, the opportunity will come eventually.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently in a busy season of ministry in a growing church, which isn’t leaving much time free to write. But one idea I want to explore further has to do with resources for personal and group study of the Bible. I think that asking a thought-provoking and penetrating question about a text is often more helpful than providing ready answers.

Finally, what is your favourite book and why?

The book which has most helped me in my journey of faith is Most Moved Mover by Clark Pinnock. It stretched my thinking and understanding of God in so many ways, but, more importantly, met a deep pastoral need at the time I discovered it, helping me to make sense of some hard and painful experiences I was going through. Any book which can do both those things at one and the same time is a book worth treasuring.

 

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  • Trevor Neill

    Trevor Neill is Ministry Team Leader at Selsdon Baptist Church, South Croydon, having previously served on the leadership teams of churches in the West Midlands and Exeter.

  • Bridging the Gaps

    Trevor Neill

    Are there gaps between what we believe and what we do? Does society influence us more than our theology? Why are churches often places of stress and strain rather than peace and renewal?
    In Bridging the Gaps, Trevor Neill shines a compassionate light on the hidden and often unacknowledged contradictions of the contemporary UK church...