Check back over the next few weeks as we get to know the Newsom family better, learn more about Les and hear about the decision making process that led to his nomination from our Pulpit Nominating Committee.
WEEK 2: Q&A WITH LES
q&a – Whitney Reese & Les Newsom
Q2: How has Area Coordinator for RUF prepared you to lead CPC?
Les: The last seven years have been spent doing lots of counseling and pastoring marriages & children. I’ve also walked some campus ministers (including my wife and me) through the loss of parents. In addition, I did my fair share of administrative work throughout: preparing budgets, writing protocols, raising money, etc. We’ll see how helpful that experience has been.
Q3: What particularly excites you about your new role at CPC? What makes you a little nervous?
Les: What excites me the most is what I think draws our church family into our fellowship: the people. Though I’ve been with the church since 1999, my relationships in the church, aside from a small circle, have been somewhat limited. I’m most excited to hear the stories of those I’ve worshipped with, up close.
Everything makes me nervous about it. I’ve never been the pastor of a church so there’ll be a steep learning curve that I’m hoping the congregation is patient with me through.
Q4: Do you know there’s a squirrel that lives in the gym?
Les: I assume he’s been hiding from Curt’s famous “Squirrel Head” soup all these years?
Q5: What will be one thing you will miss about working for RUF? What is one thing you won’t miss?
Les: That’s an emotional question for me since I have come to believe that RUF is as important a movement from within our denomination as exists. RUF Campus Ministers are some of the most gifted, sincere, energetic men that I have ever known. They are my relational network and I will miss them most of all.
But I have spent the better part of the last seven years traveling 35K miles per year in my car to go see these men and their ministries. Won’t miss that travel.
Q7: Compare getting to know college students to congregants at CPC.
Les: College students are in perpetual crisis mode. So many decisions that will set the pattern of life for people are set in college (marriage, career, personality, etc.) And while I know that life is almost always a perpetual crisis experience (I know my adult life is), I look forward to getting to know people over a long period of time and seeing how God’s Providence has moved them and shaped them into what He wants them to be.
Q8: Outside of your involvement with the RUF organization, are there any other organizations or groups you have been involved with over the years (e.g. greek fraternity, chess club, philanthropic group, sports team, etc.) between high school and now?
Les: I was on the football team when I was in high school. I choose my words carefully…I was ON the football team. I didn’t say I “played football.” Beyond that, I was on numerous speech teams in high school and college in addition to the worship and skit teams that I was on at the church I worked for during college. Such is my youth ministry background.
Q9: What are some of your favorite ways to spend your down time?
Les: Music has to be at the top of that list. My idea of a great evening is to slip on my Bose noise cancelling headphones and flip through my Apple Music subscription in search of new music. My tastes are as varied as they get. My kids are a constant and wonderful source of great new music.
Q10: If Curt loves “grabbing a biscuit,” what is your go-to meeting place?
Les: Newk’s. No question. Manager Cody has become a good friend and knows my order as I walk in the door. That said, I would LOVE to see a coffee shop go up near the new church.
Q11: New Building Process: What are some of your hopes, fears & dreams as we head towards our new building on Sisk Avenue?
Les: My hope is that we don’t limit our vision for that facility. God spent lots of time in Exodus outlining the lavishness with which the people of God should adorn his “meeting place” (re: tabernacle). While that vision always has to be combined with healthy and wise stewardship over resources, it should never eclipse our desire to build something that will last well in to the next decades as a “home and a hope” to Oxford.
Q12: You’ve got a lot of teenagers in the house. Do you have any “words of wisdom” for parents or grandparents of teenagers? Of young kids?
Les: The inertia in my heart (which I believe to be sinful) is to treat my children like “objects” to be manipulated, be formed, be pushed, etc. In my best moments, I want to treat my children like “subjects” instead, people worth knowing, to be studied and pursued for relationship. My heart pulls me to anxiety and fear in parenting when all the while, I just want to know what makes them tick and search for ways to share the joy that the Gospel has brought to their mother and me.
Lightening Round Questions (shamelessly stole from the internet):
- Texting or talking? Texting…sorry Curt.
- What’s the fastest speed you’ve ever driven in a car? [furiously scrambles to look up his Miranda Rights]
- Favorite day of the week? What preacher wouldn’t say Sunday? But seriously, my family usually heads home, puts our pj’s back on and does something together as family. Love those days.
- If Voldemort offered you a hug, would you accept? Voldemort? Sorry, I’m a Lord of the Rings guy. Should have asked about Sauron. Wouldn’t have hugged him at all.
- What’s your ideal outside temperature? 78. I’m a warm weather person. I endure the cold waiting for sunny days – might even be seasonally disaffected.
- When people stand up for a standing ovation, are you usually one of the earlier people to stand up or one of the later? I quote Jerry Seinfeld when a standing O starts: “So…are we doing this now?”
- What age where you when you got your first cell phone? 33? I was the cool kid on the block. [nose grows]
Random Questions of the Week
Each week you will find answers to a few random (and sometimes silly) questions that Les and those closest to him have been asked to give us a little more insight into him.
What book do you recommend the most (besides the Bible) to read?
Les: Three way tie: first, God’s Way Of Peace by Horatius Bonar (if you want to understand my fundamental approach to ministry, read the last 3 chapters of that book). Second, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied by John Murray (the first time I understood my salvation). Third, The Letters of John Newton (Banner of Truth Edition only) (been feeling my soul for years and years).
When was the last time you stayed up past 4 in the morning?
Les: Youth group “lock ins” when I was in college. I led an effort my senior year in college to discontinue the practice of those things. Positively destructive. I have a love/hate relationship (re: insomniac) with sleep and it’s very precious to me.
Not a question, but name one bucket list item you haven’t marked off.
Les: There’s a small island to the north of the British Virgin Islands called Anegada. On the north side of the island, there’s a rental house called Lavenda Breeze. I want to spend a week there with no contact with the outside world.