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An Interview with Craig Cooney – The Trendiest Pastor I Know

2 August 2012

As you know if you are a regular reader of my blog (do I have any regular readers…???) if possible every week I want to try and do an interview with someone far more interesting than myself. I have only known Craig for a few months but have realised that (a) he is far more interesting than me, (b) is far trendier than me (not hard!) and (c) is doing an absolutely fantastic job of bringing renewal to one of the oldest evangelical charismatic churches in Dublin. Anyway, here is what he had to say


(1) Hi Craig, tell us who you are, when you became a Pastor & your most favourite thing about Dublin?

I’m about to turn 37 in a few weeks which sounds much older than it feels.  I’ve been married for 3 years to Becky, the most amazing woman God ever created and we have our first child on the way in September.

At 27 I headed to Dublin to study at the church of Ireland Theological College and was ordained when I was 30.  I then spent 5 years as a Curate (Assistant Pastor) in a large church near Belfast.  Here I planted a congregation called ARISE aimed at 16-30 year olds which grew to around 200 people during the time I was there and is still going strong today.  Last year we felt a call to move to CORE Church in Dublin and have been here almost a year.

Our favorite thing about Dublin is the mix of people here.  You have every background and nationality residing in a smallish city, with the large majority bring under 35 years old.  There is a real energy and buzz in the air.

(2) Now not many pastors I know drive a BMW, wear designer clothes and look as cool as you – how do people often react when they meet you and find out you are a Pastor?

Is this question for real??!  You make me sound like an Irish Benny Hinn!  And Steve, you’re pretty cool yourself….! People are often shocked when they find out I’m a Pastor.  Most people have stereotypes of what a pastor/minister looks like and maybe I don’t fit that mould.  But the bottom line is always going to be, how much does my life reflect Jesus when they get to know me.

(3) Who have been your inspirations growing up and who do you enjoying reading (and why)?

Those who inspire me most are strong and passionate leaders in the Body of Christ.  This has changed over the years but has included Paul and Priscilla Reid (CFC Belfast), Alister Begg (my pastor in Ohio), John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton and Jack Hayford.  As you can see this is quite a mix from Reformed Baptist to charismatic.

(4) You took over at CORE around a year ago, tell us how the first year has been?

It’s been a rollercoaster.  CORE for many years was one of the largest and best known churches in Ireland.  Through a number of factors it went through a sharp decline in the last 7 years, to the point where this time last year there were around 50 adults left….By God’s grace we have grown quickly, doubling in the first 4 months.  We saw some people come to faith in Christ and baptised 8 people in November.  This was the first time the baptism pool had been opened in years. We now have around 180 people who call CORE their spiritual home.

(5) Tell us some of the values and characteristics that you feel need to mark churches in Dublin today (and why)?

In terms of values and characteristics which should mark the church, I would say that we need to be strongly missional and evangelistic, bringing the Gospel into every sector and domain of society.  People need not just to hear about Jesus, but we must demonstrate the good news through compassion, mercy, and signs and wonders….we need to communicate with grace and openness, meeting people where they are.

Once people do become Christians, there is a real need for good biblical teaching and discipleship, something which I feel has been weak in Ireland generally.

(6) Tell us, what are your hopes for CORE and the church in Dublin in the next few years?

I want CORE to be a strong, growing, passionate church, reaching Dublin and beyond with the love and power of Jesus.  I want us to become a church where people are reached, equipped, empowered and released to bring God’s Kingdom wherever they go.  I want to see churches united together in the mission to reach our communities and see people set free to become all God has created them to be.
And honestly, I want to see an awakening in Ireland.  I really do sense that we are ripe for a sovereign move of God’s Spirit.  Everything we have depended upon (church/government/institutions) have failed us miserably, and people don’t know where to turn.  That is why Steve, I am thrilled to see young leaders like you moving here to start churches.  Ireland needs hundreds of new churches if we are effectively going to see people won and discipled for Jesus.


I am really looking forward to working with Craig in the years to come, I just know I’ll have a challenge keeping up!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Julia Crookston permalink
    3 August 2012 12:58 pm

    hi Steve, yes you do have a regular reader…and no, this isn’t your Mum. Great way of hearing what’s going on and people you’re in contact with – keep it up 🙂

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