James was born and brought up in Northern Ireland, but came to Scotland in 1984 to study medicine. After 11 years of working for the NHS, he began studying theology at St Andrews University with a view to ordination within the Church of Scotland. After serving for over 6 years in the parish of Sighthill, Glasgow, he resigned from his post and moved north to Inverness in 2012. He now serves as the minister (or pastor-teacher) of Highland International Church in Inverness and is a recognised teaching elder within the International Presbyterian Church. He is married to Jane, a consultant ophthalmologist, and they have 2 children, Katie and Calum.