Each week we’re introducing you to different people supported by the Bonar Trust. This week we hear from Caelan Barnes, a second-year ministry apprentice at St Andrews Free Church in St Andrews, Fife.


Caelan BarnesWhat did you do before your apprenticeship?
I studied Pure Mathematics at the University of St Andrews.


What are you learning at Cornhill?
In general we’re learning how to handle scripture that we might effectively teach it to other people. Recently we’ve been looking at Old Testament narratives, Revelation, and John’s Gospel, as well as the more systematic topics of union with Christ and aspects of pastoral ministry.


What does ministry look like day to day?
Most of my work revolves around three things: administrative tasks, preparatory work for teaching engagements, and then enacting that work in the teaching of scripture to others. On the administrative front I organise our monthly student lunches as well as maintain the church’s website, make service sheets, and any other tasks that the top brass assign me. As for the teaching situations that I’m preparing for, they include preaching, Sunday school, student Bible studies, and 1-to-1 discipleship. All in all it’s a rather mixed bag! 


What’s the most important thing you are learning from the apprenticeship? What have been your highlights?
It’s difficult to isolate one thing because as I’ve learned: ministry is rather varied. I think the biggest thing I’ve grown in though is my ability to teach biblical truths in various contexts. Be it in the pulpit, Sunday school, student Bible studies or 1-to-1 discipleship situations I have grown much in my ability to helpfully and clearly guide others to the truth.

There’s two things I enjoy particularly though. First, studying God’s word, particularly the initial stages of understanding the passage and then nuancing and sharpening my application later on in the preparation process. Second, helping others to see for themselves how the Bible shapes their lives. Often individuals can be struggling with a certain issue that’s only symptomatic of something deeper that they don’t realise. Helping them to see this for themselves by asking good questions and then guiding them to the application of scripture to that situation is very rewarding. It also helps me grow in my godliness as I frequently unearth subterranean issues in myself while I’m helping people unearth theirs!


What are you learning through mentoring?
I am mentored by Hamish Sneddon. As he’s mentored me I’ve been learning perseverance in the strength that Christ gives us as we carry out the work of his gospel. I’ve found my time as a ministry trainee difficult and constantly returning to why we do it and who’s power we do it in has been a recurring theme in our supervision meetings.


What would you like to do after your apprenticeship?
At this juncture in my life I don’t think further formal ministry is the immediate next step. That’s not to say I’ll never do it, I just don’t think now is the right time. Instead my current plan is to return to studying in St Andrews, transitioning into philosophy, whilst continuing to serve in as large a capacity as they’ll allow me at St Andrews Free Church.


If you would like to give to the work for the Bonar Trust and support more individuals like Caelan, you can find all the information here.

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