A few weeks ago, a group of 12 Church Leaders in Training met in St Andrews for the second Bonar Trust Preaching Workshop. Their aim was to grow as disciples of Jesus as God spoke to them by his Spirit through his word and to help each other to become better preachers. The Workshop was led by Robin Sydserff of Chalmers Church, Edinburgh, and Paul Clarke of St Andrews Free Church – two of the Trust’s Directors.
We asked Paul what they got up to…
What happened during your time together?
We were together for just a day and a half, and there was definitely no rocket science in what we did! We had two main sessions… one on Preaching Old Testament Narrative (Robin) and one on Preaching from the Gospels (Paul). But the bulk of our time was given to listening to one another preach. Each delegate brought with them a full-length sermon that they had preached recently – they preached it ‘live’ to a group of 6 and then received some constructive feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of the talk.
What is the aim of the time together?
We know that one of the main ways (the main way?) that God leads his church today is through the preaching of his word. We know that preaching is the bread and butter of the Church Minister’s week… every week…. and yet all too often, preachers can go for years without receiving any real help on how they can do that vital task better. Some of the men on the conference have been preaching for years but have never received any feedback on their preaching. We started these little workshops with the simple aim that all of us might become better preachers of the glorious life-giving word of God.
What are the benefits?
The friendships that have grown among the Church Leaders in Training over the last few years give a wonderful context to a workshop like this. I suppose there might be a danger of a competitive spirit between the delegates in this sort of environment but we had none of that – just real warmth, trust and mutual support as we tried to help each other to become better preachers for the sake of Christ and his kingdom. I learnt a huge amount from listening to these young men preach & came away excited to think about the way that God might use these 12 in Scotland in the years to come!
How does this fit with the vision of the Bonar Trust?
The workshop happened because some of those who are funded by the Trust asked us to run it. Until recently, we have thought of ourselves exclusively as providers of funding for those being trained in Christian ministry. Others are now encouraging us to provide some hands-on preaching training as well. These small workshops seem to be a great complement to the other preacher training initiatives already happening in Scotland and we are therefore hoping to run a handful of these workshops each year. Watch this space for details!
Come back on Thursday to read what one of the church leaders in training thought.