James studied Management at UMIST between 2000 and 2003 where he was a member of Ivy Church, a Fusion Connection Church. Today he is the Managing Director of Hampton Manor, a Michelin starred ‘restaurant with rooms’ in Birmingham.
As a student I helped run Alpha courses in Manchester curry houses
We had 90 people on some courses. Students can’t resist free food and lots of student live around the Curry Mile. Some students slightly older than me planted a community in Moss Side and Rusholme, an area of social deprivation. They asked questions about what God’s Kingdom looks like in the whole of our lives; in the workplace, in the home, in society, in government, and in education. They were great at recognising what God was doing outside of the walls of the church. For me this was influential.
My sister became a Christian whilst at university in Birmingham and one-by one the rest of my family followed.
I was about 10 at the time; my mum and dad ran a pub in Worcester and we used to have all the staff for dinner on a Sunday round a big table. The Bar Manager became a Christian, then other members of staff became Christians. The pub became a neutral environment in which to run Alpha and Marriage courses.
Today I run Hampton Manor.
My work there is about expressing the Kingdom of God and giving people a taste of what is coming. The Moss Side community showed me that the gospel isn’t just good news for when we die, it is also the good news that Jesus started something very special when he rose from the dead. We are part of that redemptive work of building something through our work and our whole life that speaks of what he’s up to and points people to the ultimate goal of the renewal of the whole of creation, including humanity.
Recently I’ve gone to a new level of thinking on this. What my parent’s business established for God was very exciting and now we’re increasingly seeing new and broader ways to understand God's work in our new venture. The product itself has something of God’s Kingdom very clearly in it. We’ve recently commissioned a 4.3 meter long table for the restaurant and a large tasting table for our reception area. They were inspired by God constantly using the metaphor of the table and eating with each other to show us what the Kingdom looks like.
Our business isn’t just about making a profit and looking after our staff.
When people eat here and having significant moments together, there’s something of the Kingdom in that. It’s given me a greater understanding of entrepreneurism and the responsibility we have for our work to implicitly tell the story of God and be alive and meaningful in his Kingdom.
If you’re studying at the moment try to get Christians around you who value what you do outside of the church. People who will help you lean into a career that lets you fully express your strengths and use them to bring the Kingdom of God.