Interview with Pastor Dave Solmes – Lead Pastor, Living Waters Church

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

I wanted to explore some of the world of different Christian leaders, small and big. However, I wanted to report less on those and more in their own words. These will be published, slowly, over time. This, I trust, may open dialogue and understanding between various communities. Of course, an interview does not amount to an endorsement, but to the creation of conversation, comprehension, and compassion. Pastor Dave Solmes is a Lead Pastor of Living Waters Church. Here we talk about his life and views.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is your family background regarding religion? How did this influence personal upbringing if at all?

Pastor Dave Solmes: I was born into a Christian home. My father was involved in pastoral ministry. Since I was part of the family, since birth [Laughing]…

Jacobsen: …[Laughing]…

Solmes: My family had Christian values. That were biblically based and publicly expressed.

Jacobsen: What was educational background prior to the formal pastoral work?

Solmes: I attended as a full-time student at our denominational Bible college and graduated with a B.Th. and am presently a part-time student with a university in Lakeland, Florida pursuing a master’s in Christian Leadership.

Jacobsen: With regards to undergraduate theological training, what are some of the courses covered and courses taught?

Solmes: Courses range broadly from the education necessary for someone to be based in a church-based ministry or a Christian organization. Some things foundational to the degree that I received were theology courses, biblical hermeneutics, theology courses including Christology, pneumatology, eschatology, ecclesiology, and so on.

Jacobsen: What is the tradition or sect for you?

Solmes: I have grown up in the Evangelical denomination if you would or the Evangelical church. Specifically, it was the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, which was where my father had credentials. After graduating from Bible college and seminary, I, as well for 28 years, had been a credential holder and ordained with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.

Jacobsen: Now, you are the lead pastor at Living Waters Church in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. What tasks and responsibilities come with being a lead pastor?

Solmes: I would be thought of by the membership and congregation as a team or staff leader. We have 17 paid employees on our team. That in itself is a joy. I would be responsible for our local church constitution as the lead pastor, as the chairman of the leadership council.

It has specific tasks and roles. Again, the oversight of ministries and congregational care would probably be the three categories of intention.

Jacobsen: How do you move upward in a Christian church from pastoral training to pastor to lead pastor?

Solmes: There would be a number of ways to respond to that question. One would be based on giftings, natural talents and natural giftings. One would be based on personal interests. One would be based on opportunities that come people’s ways to continue to get involved and pursue and take on more responsibility.

There would be also the foundational and educational aspects. The personal preparation for professional education and then the personal development. The foundation for all of those is that God is someone who would move someone’s heart into that direction and would – the word often used in pastoral ministry is a calling – be something someone would be responding to, walk towards, God.

That is the one who is ultimately the head of the church. One who is calling people to His side, so we get caught up in His story. We then accept an invitation to be a part of that.

Jacobsen: In terms of formal training, and formal definitions or traits of God, to you, what is God?

Solmes: My response to that would be a personal experience, personal observation, and personal understanding. I have witnessed the gracious presence of God all my life. I would be able to note and describe times when I sense His involvement and His activity in my life and around my life

I observed that in other people. I always think the story of God lends itself to a God that cares for people and has drawn near to people. That is what He has done to me. He has drawn near to me. I have allowed Him to draw near and to provide the work of a Saviour and a directing role within my life and create a purpose for life to live responsibly on Earth and, of course, living on Earth in light of what I consider an eternal promise and an eternal hope.

Scripture lends itself to a God who draws near. The Old Testament of a God drawing near through descending to Earth through Jesus. If you study the book of Acts, you see the pouring of the Holy Spirit of God drawing and being near and continuing the daily practice to be near us and us opening our hearts to that.

So, He cares.

Jacobsen: How do you prepare a service? How do you prepare for each Sunday sermon? How do you prepare other younger pastors or pastors-in-training to be able to speak in public with authority on Christianity’s text, the Bible?

Solmes: Church expression and ministry involves mid-week activities. Also, of course, the responsibility of Sunday services or Sunday gatherings. I would certainly be in the middle of that conversation. So, at Living Waters, we make decisions based upon hearing specific team members as we discuss and consider primarily teachings that come by way of a series.

So, we are seldom, as it relates to sermons, one-off sermon givers. The majority of the teaching happening happens in the context of a series. Where it would be a theologically topical series, it would be studying specifically a book of the Bible over a long period of time and drawing application.

Sunday preparation involves conversation to be able to provide a little bit of a liturgy. It involves conversations with other pastoral team members in our worship network as they prepare songs. We organize ourselves around our liturgy to make sense of it, to help invite people into it.

Jacobsen: Churches are not simply physical places or objects. In the same way, a house is not simply a physical object. It is also a state of mind in the way a home is a state of mind. A church is a state of mind in other words. It becomes a community effort to provide for the needs of the community.

In the frame of reference of the religious community, it is a spiritual community. With respect to the provisions outside and around the church, like daycare, childcare, Bible study groups, and others, what are some that are more notable, and maybe not notable, within the Living Waters, in Fort Langley, community?

Solmes: We have two locations. We have a Fort Langley and a Willoughby location. Those participating are interested in being engaged relationally within the community. That often find strides in age-specific ministries or in gender-specific ministries.

In both locations, there is a program and focus on the nursery to youth aged children. That looks different in both. In Fort Langley, we have primary staff that give program and attention and opportunity for pre-teen and teens to gather.

We have Sunday opportunities for children. Every week, there are about 120 kids in the midst of our four gatherings. During the week, there is attention. There is an arts camp in July. All kinds of kids come to it. Beyond that, when it comes to some of the most interesting opportunities, our ladies provide every Christmas with the “Helping Hand’s Initiative.”

We have hundreds of ladies at Living Waters who engage in all kinds of community activities, where they show up with helping hands. All leadership development for women ends up in the fourth segment of it. It is to encourage the expression of finding local community groups and simply showing up with helping hands.

One lady, one at the completion of the network education, hosted in her townhouse complex a meal. She provided a meal and gifts for 8 single moms. She did it all out of her own initiative. We all have involvement in the local prisons.

We have gift baskets or care packages given to incarcerated people. We have actually last Christmas developed or organized a number of hampers, Christmas hampers. Kwantlen reserve became the benefactors of that.

They are our neighbours across the water here in Fort Langley. We are actively involved in giving hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to global partners around the world. We have friends of Living Waters and formal partners. We have 12.

There are hundreds of thousands of dollars are given annually to support ministries, which relate to language learning and benevolent ministry and social justice concerns and university ministries. Living Waters, at the core of it, would be interested in being continually generous and being helping hands to encourage people and honour people – to live responsibly no matter the continent or country.

We are seeking to influence the world and make it a better place.

Jacobsen: I have one, last, very side question. I note one issue as commentary from several pastors. Some of the more prominent ones. They note a decline in “masculinity” within the church. In particular, they note a decline in the men enrolling in the church. 

They attend less. They adhere less. Of course, women, globally, are more likely to be religious. However, what is the response, internally, from the Christian church in Canada to men adhering to the faith and partaking of the suggested practices of the faith as well?

Solmes: That’s a great question, Scott. That’s a good question. Your observations are correct. We can talk about causes and strategies. Let’s talk about strategies, men require purpose, clarity, seek to be involved and active.

So, Christianity that does not find expression and activity. When Christianity is expressed in a circular way, I think men tap out, in some cases. I know at Living Waters; we have an egalitarian model of leadership, which says, “Men and Women are equal.” Our denomination ordains women.

Living Waters is at the front end of providing opportunities for women. Not at the expense of men, but to share a male-female expression of leadership. For men, I think it requires involvement. I think that men form relationships differently than women.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Pastor Solmes.

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