There are multiple analogies for living the Christian life, but one of the most ancient is the idea of a journey—a journey through life, a journey home to God. And within that general imagery, we can pick up master works on such iterations as pilgrimages, climbing, sailing, dancing. Paul uses the image when he talks about running a race, a race you mean to win (1 Corinthians 9:24).
Pastor Rob Fuquay has drawn that very image into the 21st century, into our fast-paced, high-adrenaline lives, and in doing so, has found that the world of sport racing can actually provide us some powerful handles on our own spiritual “race.” Discernment, disappointment, delays; refreshment, focus, passion—these all come into play on the race course.
Patheos had the opportunity to ask some further questions of the author. Enjoy getting to know Pastor Rob a bit better!
Tell us a little bit more about yourself.
I’m senior pastor of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, Indianapolis, Indiana. I’ve served in various congregations in North Carolina and now in the Indiana Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. I’m married and my wife, Susan, and I have three young adult daughters. I graduated from Candler School of Theology at Emory University with a master of divinity.
Three daughters, what do you enjoy most about being a dad?
I’m at a great stage as a dad because I am watching my girls get started in their own races in life. Just a few years ago they were getting behind the wheel of a car for the first time. Now they are in college and getting out of college. It is fun relating to my kids on an adult level and reflecting with them on things they must learn to navigate.
You’ve developed, with Upper Room Ministries, some church-wide series that you’ve used in your congregations. Why are church-wide series important?
We’ve found that having a church-wide initiative where everyone comes together to worship and then study the same content energizes our congregation. It gets people focused and deeper into the scriptures. We’ve found worship attendance increases but more importantly people connect with the content and with each other in a more powerful way.
For your first series, The God We Can Know, you went to the Holy Land to video the DVD. What new insights or observations did you have?Having studied for a month in Israel when I was in seminary, it was fascinating to return for the first time in thirty years and see how much had changed, such as the West Bank wall separating the Palestinian areas. Studying biblical stories in their ancient settings in the midst of modern political contexts helps appreciate the relevance of the enduring spiritual truths of scripture.
What inspired you do your series using the flags in auto racing?
Take the Flag isn’t your typical church-wide series but as an auto racing fan I saw the tie-in of the visuals of the flags used to communicate with drivers and our Christian discipleship. People will begin to understand that God is always communicating with us—if we pay attention to the signals. This series is not about making race fans but is developed to be engaging, easy-to-follow, and scripture based. We do know that there are a lot of auto racing fans though, and we believe this is a topic many men will connect with.
What are you working on now?
I’m completing work on a new series that will publish next year. For that series, Susan and I travelled with a group from the church to Greece and Turkey journeying in the footsteps of Paul. People will be able to find out more about it on my website.
What excites you about the church today?
Honestly the struggles we face excite me. We are an incredibly diverse culture. That diversity does not live just in the most urban areas. Rural communities are experiencing this ethnic, linguistic, religious variety. This is challenging the church to be inclusive, much like the communities of Corinth and Ephesus experienced.
What’s the last book you’ve read?
David Brooks, The Road to Character
Your favorite theological word?
And. I know, its not a theological word, but Elton Trueblood once said it’s the most important word in the Bible. I recently preached a sermon on this topic. The idea that with God there is always fresh possibility is the hope of the Gospel.
When you are not preparing for worship what do you enjoy?
I enjoy hiking, golf, and other sports and am a Duke basketball fan and a huge fan of the Cincinnati Reds!