Blog

Ashley Gardner

Each week we’re introducing you to different people supported by the Bonar Trust. In this week’s post Ashley Gardner describes his experience as a first-year Pastor-in-Training at Charlotte Baptist Chapel in Edinburgh.

Ashley Gardner


What led you into training for gospel ministry?
My own internal desire to serve the Lord Jesus in a full time capacity. Having explored various others options and coming to a deep dissatisfaction. This was accompanied by encouragement from elders/retired pastors and the doors being opened by the Lord as they were pressed on.

 

What training had you done prior to your current role?
1 year Cornhill and a ministry apprenticeship at Charlotte Baptist Chapel.

 

What does training look like day to day?
I currently lead a ministry (11-18 y/o). We teach through the Bible and teach topics relevant to our culture seeking to prepare them for life in the world as Christians. We meet socially to develop relationships key to the Christian life.

I lead services, preach, and have access to elders meetings within my local church. I also serve on a variety of other ministries: evangelistic/service orientated.

My studies take up 4 days in the week at Edinburgh Theological Seminary.

 

What have you learned over the course of your training? What have been the highlights?
Lots and lots, there is so much to be grateful for. Highlights have to be the growth in Bible handling. As Bible handling is the bread and butter of ministry, it’s key to work hard at trying to understand and apply the text. Cornhill was instrumental in this, as was sitting under excellent expository preaching at Charlotte Chapel. 

The formation of character in my own life has also been a highlight. Character is key in ministry and I recognise my many shortfalls. Graciously God is changing me. Recognising the depths of my sin against the backdrop of the richness of God’s Grace in Christ has enabled me to reflect deeper on what my salvation means. Therefore, ministering to others, not out of a sense that I’ve made it, but that Christ is the one we look to. 

 

What do you hope to do when you’ve finished training? What stage are you at with these plans?
I hope to go into some form of full time paid gospel ministry, maybe an Assistant Pastor. I am keeping my ear to the ground, developing relationships with pastors and being open to where the Lord is leading. I’m also submitting to the elders over my care and listening to their recommendations.

 

What role has the Bonar Trust played in your training?
So far, the Bonar Trust has been a financial benefactor. It is right to say that it would not have been possible to pursue ministry training without the support of the Trust. There are also opportunities in the future to provide some preaching and teaching development, something I’m eager to be involved with.

 

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

Jack Strain

Each week we’re introducing you to different people supported by the Bonar Trust. This week, Jack Strain describes his experience as a first-year apprentice at St Silas Church in Glasgow.

 

Jack StrainWhat did you do before your apprenticeship?
I was working as a doctor and had just finished my FY2 year.

 

What are you learning on your study programme at Cornhill?
Currently learning more about how to present/teach God’s word, by giving short explanations of chunks of scripture and being evaluated on the clarity and accuracy of those. Also spending time in Exodus as a worked example of how to approach and teach a Bible book.

 

What does ministry look like day to day?
I am involved in students and kids work at church. For me that means meeting up with students one-to-one to read God’s word and leading weekly student Bible studies, as well as helping to lead a Sunday school group for 8-10s.

 

What’s the most important thing you are learning from the apprenticeship? What have been your highlights?
The most important thing that I am learning so far is that it’s important to keep your head up and look at the big picture of what God is doing and who God is to keep you going day to day, otherwise there are loads of small tasks that you can get bogged down in without trying to see the bigger picture.

The highlights have been seeing new students settle at St Silas and want to come and hear from God through his word, as well as some of the students who were there before who seem to be stuck in with serving at church and CU and are already trying to live for Jesus wholeheartedly.

 

What are you learning through mentoring?
I am being mentored by Martin Ayers the Rector at St Silas. I think his mentoring is currently helping me learn the importance of picking up your convictions and running with them. The worked example that I have been involved with that is starting something new at church, in particular an evangelistic course that we haven’t previously run.

 

What would you like to do after your apprenticeship?
I would like to continue into full-time vocational ministry.

 

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

 

 

Sarah Carson

Each week, we’re introducing you to different people supported by the Bonar Trust. In today’s post, Sarah Carson, a second-year ministry trainee at St Andrews Free Church, tells up about her apprenticeship experience.

 

Sarah Carson

What did you do before your apprenticeship?
I studied Theology at St Andrews.

 

What are you learning on your study programme?
I love Cornhill and am learning so much there! We’re taught the basics of Bible handling and then given lots of opportunities to put what we learn into practice. We’re also given a overview of some key books of the Bible as well as studying how to teach different genres like Old Testament Narrative or New Testament letters. We also think practically about what it’s like to be in ministry and how we can best serve the people we work with, as well as having an introduction to some key Christian doctrines.

 

What does ministry look like day to day?
As part of my role I work mainly with students, reading the Bible one-to-one and in small group contexts seeking to disciple and encourage them in their knowledge of and love for Christ. There’s also lots of opportunity to train others in their ability to teach the Bible, and along with our women’s worker I work with the female Bible study leaders seeking to equip them for the ministry they’re involved in. I’m also involved in helping with the kids’ work, teaching Sunday School and Scramblers and helping to train our Sunday School teachers and do lots of administrative tasks for the day-to-day life of the church family. So, there’s lots to keep me busy, but I love it!

 

What’s the most important thing you are learning from the apprenticeship? What have been your highlights?
I’m learning just how central the Bible is to everything we do as a church and to the Christian life. One of the big things I’ve been learning and convicted of recently is that the gospel is the power of God and it’s sufficient both for Christians and non-Christians. It’s such a privilege to read the Bible with Christians who are at different stages of life and Christian maturity and to point them to Christ in the highs and lows of life. One of the things I was most nervous about when starting the training scheme was reading the Bible one-to-one with people but it’s definitely become one of my highlights. There’s nothing better than reading the Bible with someone and watching as they begin to understand some big Bible truth and think about how it applies to their life, while having your own heart changed and faith encouraged at the same time!

 

What are you learning through mentoring?
I meet regularly with our women’s worker to discuss all things work, life, and ministry. I’ve been learning so much through these regular meetings as I learn from her wisdom and life and ministry experience and also as we talk about different areas of theology and holiness. We’ve read and discussed books which have helped me not only in my discipleship of others but also my own personal growth as I seek to put sins to death and grow in Christlikeness.

 

What would you like to do after your apprenticeship?
I think this is the question that every apprentice dreads! But I’d love to be involved in ministry in some capacity, whether that’s in a full-time capacity or as an active member of a local congregation. Throughout my time as an apprentice I have seen so much of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes of a church and have grown in my understanding of and appreciation for the gospel, and so with the skills and knowledge I have gained I would love to be using them to serve the Church, wherever that is and whatever that looks like!

 

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

Scott Hamilton

Each week we’ll be introducing you to different people supported by the Bonar Trust. In this week’s post Scott Hamilton tells us about his experience as a first-year Minister in Training at Chalmers Church Edinburgh. 

Scott Hamilton


What led y
ou into training for gospel ministry?
This was a combination of two things. The first thing was a growing desire to do ministry and be involved on the front lines of God’s work in a local church context. The second thing was encouragement from men and women, peers and those older than me, to seriously think about training for gospel ministry. The combination of these two things has led me to where I am now. 


What training had you done prior to your current role, if any?
I’ve been involved in ministry in one shape or another around Edinburgh for the past seven years. I spent one year as an intern with UCCF. I then worked as an apprentice at Chalmers Church for two years before working for UCCF again for another four.


What does training look like day to day for you?
The training role has three main threads. The first one is being directly supervised and trained by my minister in my local church. He knows the intricacies of ministry better than I do and is able to watch me and offer input when needed (often!)

The second is being given an area of responsibility in a local church context (in my case, the music ministry) and being given enough autonomy to learn what it looks like to lead a group of people through change and growth. 

The third is theological study. I am primarily trained in my local church by the elders and others, but theological training is hugely helpful to understand how to handle the Bible and teach it to others. I’m hugely grateful to Cornhill and Crosslands for this training.  


What have you learned over the course of your training? What have been the highlights?
It has been such a privilege to see the Lord work through weak and sinful people like me! It’s been wonderful to see those who don’t yet know Jesus come to know Him as their Lord and Saviour. It’s been hard and wonderful to see the Lord shape me over the previous years, to show me my sinfulness and to remind me of the cross and His sovereignty at all times.  


What role has the Bonar Trust played in your training?
The Bonar Trust has essentially backed and supported individuals like me as we embark upon the necessary training needed for long-term gospel ministry. It’s been prepared to back us financially and continue to back us financially as we dedicate the hours needed to understanding the Bible, the gospel and sharing it with those who know Jesus and don’t yet know Him.

 

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

New Trust Administrator

The Bonar Trust has recently appointed Sydney Tooth as Trust Administrator.

Sydney grew up in Texas but has called Scotland home for the past 8 years. After finishing her Theology degree at the University of St Andrews, Sydney was a Relay Worker with UCCF in Aberdeen before earning her Master’s in Biblical Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

She has just completed a PhD in New Testament at Edinburgh and currently lectures part-time at the Faith Mission Bible College alongside part-time work with the Trust. She is married to Doug and they both attend Chalmers Church Edinburgh where they lead the youth group together.

If you have any questions about the Trust, please get in touch with Sydney at administrator@bonartrust.org

Publicity

The Bonar Trust has recently updated all its publicity.  As Trustees we hope this will give you greater clarity about the vision of the Trust.  You can read more about our vision here.

We are also excited to launch Profiles booklet which introduces some of the individuals we have supported and the leadership positions they have gone into after finishing their training.

We have also updated our giving information.  All the documents can be found here.

Please do share with others who you think would be interested in the vision of the Trust.

Developing as a preacher in the midst of training

Sean Clokey

On Mondays we want to introduce you to some of the individuals who have been supported by the Bonar Trust since it started.  Hopefully this will give an insight into the importance of the trust and how the money supports gospel work across Scotland.

Sean Clokey lives in Larbert and was supported by the Bonar Trust from 2015 until now.

 

Tell us a little about yourself

I am 36 and happily married to Rachel and we have a lovely son. Alongside my current training I serve part-time at Grace Church Larbert.

What ministry training are you undertaking/did you undertake?

I am currently in my second year studying at Edinburgh Theological Seminary.

What lead you into training for gospel ministry?

When I finished University I served as a RELAY worker with UCCF (which I enjoyed tremendously) and it made me think that gospel ministry might be something to consider in the future as a useful use of my gifts and time. Having worked for four years as a solicitor I left my legal career and undertook a ministry trainee scheme at Duke Street Church in Richmond-upon- Thames alongside completing the Cornhill Training Course in London. I then (having got married) moved to Basingstoke to serve as an assistant in a local parish church for three years. While serving there I was aware that it would be useful to do some further training to equip me for ministry, particularly in systematic theology and biblical languages. This led me to study at ETS.

How did/does the support of the Bonar Trust help you in your training for gospel ministry?

The Bonar Trust has been very helpful in supporting us in training for ministry through (i) financial help; and (ii) ongoing ministry encouragement. Without the financial support from the Bonar Trust and other trusts and generous individuals we would not be able to train at ETS. But not only has the Trust helped in this way but they have also made it a priority to encourage me in ministry through short preaching conferences. These have been excellent and a wonderful encouragement to keep the focus on developing as a preacher in the midst of training.

If you have completed you training, what do you do now?

Not finished training.

Give one great challenge and one great joy of working in gospel ministry

The biggest challenge is to keep going! Ministry is hard and it is for the long term, which means it can be easy to get disheartened. The greatest joy is that in gospel ministry I contribute very little, for it is all God’s work and he, in his grace, has allowed me to be an incredibly small part of his work of gathering to himself a people for his own name’s sake.

 

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

Helping people explore the possibility of devoting themselves to working for the Lord and for his Church in a full time paid capacity

Graeme Shanks

On Mondays we want to introduce you to some of the individuals who have been supported by the Bonar Trust since it started.  Hopefully this will give an insight into the importance of the trust and how the money supports gospel work across Scotland.

Graeme Shanks lives in Edinburgh and was supported by the Bonar Trust from 2014 until now. 

Tell us a little about yourself

My wife and Alex have been married for almost 6 years and God has blessed us with 2 gorgeous little girls Chloe (2) and Grace (6 months).  Outside of Church I love to play & watch sport (mainly football, golf & rugby) and am a long suffering Airdrieonians fan.

What ministry training are you undertaking/did you undertake?

I originally graduated with a law degree from Aberdeen University. I qualified as a Scottish solicitor and worked for firms on both sides of the border. However, I had always felt some kind of call to explore full time ministry and to explore the possibility of devoting myself to working for the Lord and for his Church in a full time paid capacity. After a period of soul searching, praying and various conversations I pushed at a few doors. Some sovereignly shut and others sovereignly opened. My good friend Jon asked me to come back up to Edinburgh and train under him. I loved the thought of learning off an experienced guy who was very gifted and good at his job. I wanted to pick his brains and extract every ounce of knowledge that I could from him. I was given a platform to gain experience in preaching, leading and reading the Bible with people. On the ground, I worked part-time for the church and studied part time at both the Porterbrook Network and Cornhill Scotland. I am indebted to Jon for the opportunity and to the congregation for the grace and patience they showed me in those early years, and still do to this day. After this 2 year internship the elders asked me to stay on as the full time Assistant Pastor which I started in August 2014. I am also now studying part time at Edinburgh Theological Seminary on the Bth programme. It is incredible, and so deeply humbling, how God has provided for me and my family every single step of the way.

What lead you into training for gospel ministry?

On the whole, I fairly enjoyed my job in law, certainly once I was qualified and a bit further up the food chain so to speak. Having your own clients was fun and creating a way for people to achieve their desired goals was satisfying.  I worked in good teams and met some really cool people.  However, I had always felt some kind of call to explore full-time ministry.  I know I know, we’re all in full time ministry, I absolutely affirm that. As Christians we are all on full time mission working for the Lord taking the the good news of Jesus to our workplaces, sports teams, families and Universities.  However, I had always felt a tug to explore the possibility of devoting myself to working for the Lord and for his Church in a full time paid capacity.  I used to love to speak about God with my friends.  There was a belly buzz every time I heard an edifying sermon or participated in a Home Group study.  I loved it when our church gathered on a Sunday and during the week to sing God’s praises and hear from him.  I found myself spending my free time reading the Bible and Christian books and wanting to get to know God more.  I loved hanging out with people and seeing people come to know God either for the first time or more deeply.  And, besides that, people seemed to think I was ‘gifted’ in this stuff.

Now looking back on things, the Lord was growing in me 4 loves;

  • A love for Him;
  • A love His Word;
  • A love for people; and
  • A love for His Church.

If, like me, you feel a ‘tug’ then ask yourself – Do you see the Lord growing in you a love in these areas? If so, then stop and have a serious think. Is this something that God wants me to explore?

How did/does the support of the Bonar Trust help you in your training for gospel ministry?

I am ever so grateful for the support of the Bonar Trust. They have provided the financial resources that have allowed me to gain a first-class theological education. They have also provided a vital support network of peers many of whom I would consider to be my close friends. In the day-to- day grind of ministry these relationships have proven so precious and helpful.

If you have completed you training, what do you do now?

I am currently the Assistant Pastor at Bruntsfield Evangelical Church and combining my work there with studying part-time at Edinburgh Theological Seminary on the Bth programme.

Give one great challenge and one great joy of working in gospel ministry.

A great joy is undoubtedly seeing people come to know Jesus as their Lord, King and Saviour.  There really is no greater thrill than seeing the Lord by His Spirit turn on the light in someones life.  Equally, seeing people grow in their faith and make everyday Kingdom decisions is a joy.  Everything from big decisions like saying no to a career move because they want to devote more time to the church, to the little decisions, like turning off the TV because to view that programme would not be honouring to the Lord Jesus, are encouraging.

One of the greatest challenges would be that there is so much to be done. There’s always more in ministry than you have time for, and so prioritising ‘what needs to get done’ over ‘what I’d like to get done’ is a constant battle. I used to work in a job where I got the satisfaction of finishing a job and leaving work at the office when I left for the evening. Ministry is not like that. Another great challenge is asking the Lord to keep your heart warm towards him. I once heard someone say that ‘the best sermons come not from a man but through a man.’ There is a lot of wisdom there. I always want to guard my own devotional life so as to make sure my service for the Lord stems from a burning love for Him and not from mere professionalism.

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

Supporting individuals for other forms of ministry

David ArmstrongOn Mondays we want to introduce you to some of the individuals who have been supported by the Bonar Trust since it started.  Hopefully this will give an insight into the importance of the trust and how the money supports gospel work across Scotland.

David Armstrong lives in Edinburgh and was supported by the trust in 2011-2013.

Tell us a little about yourself

I work part-time as an electronic engineer and biblical counsellor. In 2013 I set up New Growth Christian Counselling, which partners with Scottish churches to provide biblical counselling. For over a decade I worked as an engineer before taking time out to be a Ministry Apprentice at Charlotte Baptist Chapel when I completed Cornhill Scotland and CCEF’s distance education programme. I am married to Libby and we have three young children Hannah, Nathan and Pheobe.

What ministry training are you undertaking/did you undertake?

  • Cornhill Scotland
  • CCEF Certificate Programme

What lead you into training for gospel ministry?

  • To be better equipped as an elder
  • To see if full time Christian ministry would be a place where I could be useful for the gospel.

How did/does the support of the Bonar Trust help you in your training for gospel ministry?

  • Provided a grant so that I could enroll on Charlotte Chapel’s apprenticeship scheme

If you have completed you training, what do you do now?

  • I have retuned part time to Engineering, four days a week.
  • Work as a part time Christian counselor, one day a week.
  • Help run Biblical Counselling UK

Give one great challenge and one great joy of working in gospel ministry.

  • Joy of seeing and tasting how the gospel saves us from our broken lives and world.
  • To keep praying either in the face of business of life or seeing little fruit in peoples lives.

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