Sifting The Sands Of Time

Friday 28th October 2005

School teacher and singer/songwriter JOHN PICKERING is a long way from Christian music stardom. But he's still a powerful musical evangelist, as Tony Cummings reports.

Sifting The Sands Of Time

In a Christian music culture which sometimes apes the world with its banal personality cults and backslapping awards ceremonies, it's heartening to learn about the unassuming but spiritually powerful ministry of John Pickering. Since the '80s he's been singing performing and recording evangelistic songs and his gutsy folk style music has down the years touched many lives. John has recorded a string of albums, 'The Father's Family' (1982), 'We Want An Answer' (1987), 'Angel Delight' (1991), 'You Cannot Have Revival (And Your Television)' (1992), 'Terraced Row' (1997), 'You Don't Have To Wait Till Christmas' (2004) and his latest offering 'Sands Of Time'. Said John, "If God keeps giving me songs then I'll carry on recording and sharing them with others. As I young man I wanted to be famous, but I'm not concerned with that now. I just want to do God's will and reach people at a grassroots level. I teach at a local school, and the teenagers there love me to share my songs with them. In this way I am sharing the Gospel with far more un-churched kids than many full time musicians."

John was born and bred in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. He spoke his early years,"I grew up in a loving Christian family. My parents taught me about the Gospel and took me to a very working class Baptist chapel (a "Tin Tabernacle"). At the age of 11 a friend gave me a guitar, but I had no idea how to play it. My brother David, who is nine years older than me, learnt how to play a few chords and then taught me how to play a simple rock and roll song. I really caught the bug, and I've been playing ever since. I drifted away from God in my late teens, but at the age of 20 I had a real conversion experience. I decided to follow Christ with all my heart, and that's when I started writing Christian songs. I started doing small concerts and people asked if I had any recordings of the songs. None of the Christian labels showed any interest in my songs, so I financed my own album 'The Father's Family'."

Although John has penned some hard hitting songs accurately pinpointing the lukewarmness that exists in some church circles. His main thrust is very much taking the Gospel to the unsaved. "My main ministry has been evangelism, and I spent 25 years as a street preacher outside the pubs and clubs of Chesterfield. Talking to thousands of non-Christians really challenged my own faith and I share my ideas with other Christians through my music. The world needs a radical Christianity and my songs challenge Christians to stop play acting and offer a real solution to the people around."

There is a strong folk music element in John's music. He commented, "My early influences were Dylan, Donovan and a few other contemporary folk singers. I prefer a style that can get the lyrics across. I also like to think that my style varies a little and that I can use other genres to get the message across."

John sells his CDs at a bargain price. There is a strong rationale to this. "I have never relied on my music to earn a living. I feel that I have a message to give and I want as many people as possible to hear my songs. I therefore sell the albums for a minimal price and hope I break even. Lots of non-Christians buy the CDs - this would not be the case if I was charging the usual price for a Christian album."

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

Reader Comments

Posted by Christopher Whittam in Cambridgeshire @ 22:39 on Aug 10 2019

Where can I buy John Pickering CDs? I have Sands of Time which is great and would like others.

Posted by Jennifer Smith in Lambeth @ 07:41 on Oct 28 2018

It's been many years - possibly 60+ I am your cousin
So happy to know you are doing well

Posted by John E in Wiltshire @ 19:14 on Mar 23 2018

Just read some bio on John and thought, 'Yes, that's the sort of response I've had. But I'm sure the Lord has been helping folks thru your sharing. Loads of non-church folks take my CDs and listen to the songs. Musicians seem to appreciate lyrics and compositions even if they are not yet sure of what Jesus is about. Some of my stuff is on this site. Blessings on you brother.

Posted by Don and Joan Blagg in Norfolk @ 16:38 on Mar 12 2014

Would like the CD Sands of Time .Tried to oder -did not work. Remember John from Mansfield Woodhouse in 80's. Want to renew contact.

Posted by dave gee @ 22:08 on Jun 21 2011

good singer

Posted by michael makepeace in chesterfield @ 11:56 on Dec 8 2010

I first met John as a parttime driver for G.K.& was inpressed with his wit&charm , he has;nt paid me to say that either.since that time we have seen him sing & talk at Duckmanton methodist chapel,been to his home,& jiveing lessons with his wife & John thay are first class people & are proud to call them friends.M&S...

Posted by Martin Budd in Nr Melton Mowbray @ 04:46 on Feb 22 2008

I remember John at Hasland Baptist Church during the 70's . He and his wife took my sister and I ice skating on several occasions. I once had the honour of sharing a service with him in a small village chapel in Elton Derbyshire. Although I lost contact years ago John and his wife's commitment to and Love for the Lord have been an inspiration to me. His track "Burn out" on the album Fathers Family is one I still sing in the shower today!

Reply by joihn Pickering in Chesterfield @ 14:50 on Feb 24 2008

Hi martin! It was great to read your comment. I also have really good memories of you and your family. Get in touch by e mail and I'll send you my new CD. Something new to sing in the shower!

[report abuse]

Posted by Mr X in Chessy college @ 12:07 on Nov 13 2007

Hi all, why isn't this cummings guy as complimentary when he reviews the terraced row album?
This guy needs to take a consistency lesson and get his ears cleaned so he can hear what we, the people, can hear - Mr. Pickering has a talent that in more mainstream genre's would take him to the top of the game.

Reply by John pickering in Chesterfield @ 16:58 on Jan 27 2008

Thank you Mr X. I appreciate your positive comments. I wish you were in the record business!
Mr P.

[report abuse]

Posted by rte in hasland @ 10:49 on Oct 7 2007

hi sir

Posted by melissa tutin in chesterfield @ 17:42 on Sep 25 2007

been a former student of Mr. pickering (a.k.a john pickering) iv heard his music through school and scince iv left i still have the old lisern to mr.pickering. . . sooo keep up the singing because you will go far. take care and god bless :)

The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

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