Blog

Enabling growth in leadership skills

Alistair ChalmersOn 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.

Alistair Chalmers lives in Edinburgh and is currently supported by the Bonar Trust.

Tell us a little about yourself

I was born in Wales to Glaswegian parents and at age 12 I moved to Romania with my parents on the mission field. Romania was home for seven years, during this time I worked alongside my father in the church that he pastors. Whilst in Romania I felt a deep desire to go into ministry and Christians around me encouraged me to walk down that path. I moved to Austria for 3 years, got married, and then in 2013 my wife and I moved to Edinburgh. We moved to Edinburgh because we knew that I needed training and Bible College seemed to be the next step, so I studied at the Faith Mission Bible College. During my studies, our desire to share the gospel grew and my desire to preach and to lead a congregation grew even more, further training was required. I joined the Ministry associate program at Chalmers Church Edinburgh and am currently in my second and final year.

What ministry training are you undertaking/did you undertake?

I joined the ministry associate at Chalmers Church Edinburgh in August 2015.

What lead you into training for gospel ministry?

My desire to preach the Word of God and to see the church of Christ built up is what lead me into training for gospel ministry. I have always enjoyed seeing people grow in their faith and become more spiritually mature in Christ.

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

The Bonar Trust has supported me with grant money over the last two years and has been a huge blessing to us. These grants have made it possible for me to get my training at Chalmers Church and have given me the opportunity to grow personally and in leadership skills and gifts.

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

One of the biggest challenges I find in ministry is being able to adapt talks and Bible studies to suit all ages, especially when you work with people whose ages ranges from 12-70.

One of the greatest joys about being in ministry is seeing somebody just understand what the Bible is saying, when people have that ‘lightbulb moment’ and everything makes sense. After the lightbulb moment, it is amazing to see how that knowledge of the Bible and of God changes the way they live their lives, the way they worship God with everything they have, and the way they view God.

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

Supporting women as well as men

Rachel SloanOn 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.

Rachel Sloan lives in Edinburgh and was supported by the Bonar Trust from 2010-2012.

Tell us a little about yourself

I’m originally from Belfast but I left when I was six, hence no accent! I lived in England for 7 years before moving to Edinburgh when I was 13 years old. Edinburgh very much feels like home now! I grew up in a Christian family and committed my life to Christ at a young age.

What ministry training are you undertaking/did you undertake?

I  undertook the Ministry Associate Programme at Chalmers Church which included involvement in the church and completing the Cornhill course in Glasgow.  After finishing this 2 year programme I started working at Charlotte Chapel as their Women’s Ministry Coordinator.  In 2015 I started studying part-time for a Bachelor of Theology degree at Edinburgh Theological Seminary while continuing to work at Charlotte Chapel.

What lead you into training for gospel ministry?

From my final year of high school I was heavily involved in youth work particularly with Scripture Union.  I always had a passion to tell others about Jesus and to teach the Bible.  Leaving university I knew I had a desire to be involved in full-time ministry but was unsure how and what it should be.  I trained to be a teacher and a couple of years into teaching the desire hadn’t changed so I started exploring options.  A conversation with my minister, Robin Sydserff, led to me applying for the apprenticeship programme at our church.

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

Leaving a full-time teaching job to start the ministry associate programme was made much easier through the support of the Bonar Trust.  It meant financial concerns were less of a worry and I could concentrate on my training.

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

Within my role as the Women’s Ministry Coordinator at Charlotte Chapel, I lead bible studies, disciple younger women, organise events and much more. I am particularly passionate about training and equipping women to grow and develop the gifts and abilities God has given them for service.

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

The greatest joy is getting to speak to people about the gospel and Jesus on a daily basis. I love being able to open the Bible with people and show them how God speaks to them  through it today. It is even better when you see God transforming lives by His Holy Spirit.
The greatest challenge is to retain a desire for personal Bible study and prayer. When spending your work hours in the Bible it can be easy to let personal habits slide. I have learnt time and time again that when I am not deepening my relationship with God I am much more tempted to rely on myself. In those times I either become proud or feel overwhelmed. To keep going in ministry I need to be growing in my dependence on God which comes through spending time with him.

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

Support for those church planting

Ali SewellOn 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.

Ali Sewell lives in Edinburgh and has been supported by the Bonar Trust since 2012.

Tell us a little about yourself

I’m originally from Preston in England. Married to Julie with a 2 year old daughter, Emily, and another one on the way in Feb 2017. Prior to moving to Edinburgh to train for gospel ministry I worked as an outdoor activities instructor in the Highlands of Scotland and still enjoy all sorts of sports when time allows. Realistically I spend more time reading books and going to children’s soft play areas and parks.

What ministry training are you undertaking/did you undertake?

Julie and I moved to Edinburgh so that I could take part in the Ministry Associate Programme at Chalmers Church which included involvement in the church and completing the Cornhill course in Glasgow. After finishing this 2 year programme I went on to study for a Bachelor of Theology degree at Edinburgh Theological Seminary whilst taking up an assistant role at Christ Church Edinburgh. I currently in the final year of the degree which has been incredibly helpful and seems to have flown by!

What lead you into training for gospel ministry?

People at my previous church suggested I had gifts which would be suited for ministry, and I began the Ministry Associate Programme to test whether this was right and, if so, what form of ministry might be right. Shortly into the programme I felt that full time ministry was a way in which I could serve God and other people, including Robin the minister, agreed and encouraged me to seek a way forward to full time leadership of a church.

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

Coming to train for ministry from paid employment and with a family to look after would have been essentially impossible without the ongoing financial support of the Bonar Trust. It’s continual support has allowed me to invest time in my training and to reap the maximum benefit, rather than seeking to finish as quickly as possible due to financial pressures. I am certain this training has set good foundations in place for a lifetime of ministry. The personal support and encouragement of those at the Trust has also been a great help.

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

I’m still completing my degree but working in a local church at the same time with a range of different responsibilities. After training I expect to be involved in church planting in Scotland with the Free Church, I’m currently looking to identify locations with little or no gospel witness where this would be of most benefit.

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

One great joy is recognising more and more how the bible contains the answers to the difficulties people are facing whoever they are and whatever their challenges. It’s a privilege to be able to connect people with God’s word so that they can see he knows them, cares for them, and has acted through the death and resurrection of Jesus to secure their eternal future if they put their trust in him.

A major challenge is the constant recognition of my own failures and weaknesses. The challenges of time pressures, especially while studying, mean that I don’t speak this good news of the gospel to people as much as I would like, and often plans move forward slower than I would like!

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

The benefit of intentional investment in Ministry Training

Simon AttwoodOn 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.

Simon Attwood lives in Glasgow and was supported by the Bonar Trust from 2014-16.

Tell us a little about yourself

I’m originally from Newcastle but have spent the last 7 years in Scotland after completing an anatomy and physiology degree at Dundee university. I’m currently a UCCF staff worker with the CUs at Strathclyde and Caledonian

What ministry training are you undertaking/did you undertake?

I was on the Relay program with UCCF as a graduate and went from that to train on the ministry associate program at Chalmers church in Edinburgh alongside training at Cornhill Scotland.

What lead you into training for gospel ministry?

I had a lot of investment in my life from UCCF workers I have been under the care of over my time at university. Their example encouraged me to seek opportunities to serve in the years after university. In my time on the Relay program I was asked to visit Chalmers Church as a potential place of further training, after the application and interview progress I was offered a place on the program and decided that it would be a great opportunity to further my skills in ministry and try out potential areas of service for the future.

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

It wouldn’t be going too far to say without the investment of the Bonar trust I wouldn’t have been able to complete my training at Chalmers. The intentional investment in ministry training is invaluable to myself and many others.

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

I work full time as the UCCF staff worker for Strathclyde and Caledonian Christian Unions, mentoring, training and coordinating students to live and speak Christ centered and intentionally evangelistic lives whilst at university.

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

Challenge – helping students to persevere in an increasingly anti-Christian university culture.

Joy – Seeing lives changed by the truth of the gospel and seeing people drawn ever closer to Christ by getting to grips with the bible for themselves.

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

Good for my head and heart

Martin Smith

Martin Smith is in his final year as a pastor in training at Charlotte Chapel.  He shares his experience of the Bonar Trust’s January Preaching Workshop.

 

 

I’ve been so helped by the Bonar trust over the last four years of receiving support, but few things have been as markedly beneficial as the time spent with other church leaders in training.

Our days together in January were the second time that we have gathered together with Robin and Paul to dedicate out time to growing as preachers and leaders.  Robin and Paul both taught on how to handle specific sections of the bible which was followed by preaching groups where each of us preached and received feedback.  The clear focus of the retreat was on handling and teaching God’s word well.  It was so helpful in that it gave a clear reminder of the centrality of preaching in the life of the church, as well as practical help on how to faithfully teach the word.  You might think,  that pastors-in-training  would know that teaching the bible is a big deal and shouldn’t be needing so much help! But it can be astonishing how easily priorities get obscured, and how bad habits when handling the bible can creep in and the basics can be forgotten.

I greatly benefitted being encouraged to keep preaching amidst its challenges, and by being reminded of how important it is to get to the heart and the aim of each bible book and passage is.  Considering these things in an environment of honesty, humility and passion for the gospel with fellow workers, was good for my head and heart as a servant and follower of Jesus.  I really believe that that input and those relationships are vital in equipping and sustaining those who plan to spend their lives teaching Christ in Scotland and further afield.  Thanks to all involved, can’t wait for the next one!

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

It’s not just funding

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.

Building links with the Free Church

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.

Calum Cameron lives in Edinburgh and was support by the trust in 2015-16.

Tell us a little about yourself

I’m 22, originally from a wee place near Inverness, and I’m training to be a minister in the Free Church of Scotland.

What ministry training are you undertaking/did you undertake?

I studied for three years at Highland Theological College UHI, and I spent a year working full time as a ministry apprentice in Kilmallie Free Church, a church in a busy community near Fort William.

What lead you into training for gospel ministry?

A strong desire to serve God and serve others with my gifts; to teach and communicate God’s word to others; and to help and support people pastorally with their burdens and struggles. After much prayer, time spent in God’s word, and opportunities to test my gifts under the leadership of my local church, it became clear to me that God was leading me to serve in this way. I was also encouraged and supported by my church leadership, family and mature Christian friends who knew me well, and who were able to provide me with guidance and wisdom.

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

The Bonar Trust generously supported me for a vital part of my living costs during the year I was working full time in Kilmallie Free Church. One of the barriers to going full time was the cost of living expenses, so it was a real blessing that God was able to provide in that way through the Bonar Trust.

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

I’m now continuing to train for ministry as I study theology at Edinburgh Theological Seminary, and I work part-time for St Columba’s Free Church in Edinburgh.

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

I have found that a great challenge of working in ministry is time management. Some weeks it is difficult to balance sermon preparation with time spent with people, church events, activities and meetings, along with reading and writing essays, and trying to maintain a healthy balance between work and rest.

A profound joy of working in ministry is the opportunity both to witness God’s transformation in people’s lives as they respond to the gospel, and to see Christians grow and develop as they are discipled.

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

Supporting those in the Highlands

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.

Al MacInnes lives in Easter Ross and is currently being supported by the trust.

Tell us a little about yourself

I was born in Canada and moved to Scotland as a boy. I am married and have two young children. I am a designer and artist by trade, but am now training for the ministry with the Free Church of Scotland.

What ministry training are you undertaking/did you undertake?

While I was working as a designer I did some part-time study at the Highland Theological College. I am now a candidate for ministry with the Free Church. I am studying part-time at Edinburgh Theological Seminary while working as a pastoral intern at Rosskeen Free Church in Alness/Invergordon.

What lead you into training for gospel ministry?

I have felt a call to ministry since my teens. It was something I really wrestled with for years, not so much that I did not want to do it, but more of a struggle to know what form of ministry/pastoral work I was being lead into.

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

The help I have received from Bonar Trust has been a great blessing.  Life as a student, with a young family at home, can be very financially challenging. The support I have received from the Bonar Trust, and other brothers and sisters in Christ, has made my training possible.  It is not only a blessing to receive the financial support, but a great encouragement to know that others are lifting us up in prayer.

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

Honestly, one of the biggest challenges in gospel ministry is the daily need for faith in Christ. Like in every other line of work there is the constant temptation to rely on ones own ability and strengths. There is a daily, constant, need to look to Christ as opposed to self.

With that in mind, one of the greatest joys is to be repeatedly surprised by the goodness of God. As we step out in weakness, he meets us with his strength. We are only at the early stages of ministry and already we have countless examples of how God has met our needs in ways greater than we imagined.

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

What difference has the Bonar Trust made for Adam McNinch?

1098083b-0d43-4e54-9edd-1a044eec105fOn 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.

Adam McNinch lives in South Queensferry and is currently supported by the trust.

Tell us a little about yourself

I am 35, I’ve lived in various parts of Scotland but now live in South Queensferry.  I’ve been a Christian since I was a small child and have been part of Charlotte Chapel since 2003.  That’s where I met my wife Judith and we have two small children called Noah and Leah.  I studied law at University and have worked in administrative justice for the past eight years.  Prior to that I worked in the social housing sector.

What ministry training are you undertaking/did you undertake?

I am currently a pastor-in-training at Charlotte Chapel and I am also studying full-time for a Bachelor of Theology degree at Edinburgh Theological Seminary.  Between 2010 and 2012 I studied part-time at the Cornhill Training Course in Glasgow.  I’ve also done various bits of distance-learning and church-based training over the years – taking advantage of any useful training I can find!

What lead you into training for gospel ministry?

Three things.

(1) An inward conviction:  I say conviction rather than feeling because feelings come and go and, in any case, they’re not to be trusted (Jer. 17:9!) What I am talking about is a settled conviction that has grown over time and hasn’t gone away.

(2) The affirmation of others:  I fully believe that it is the church who sends (Acts 15:22) – so inward conviction alone isn’t sufficient.  It was very important for the members and elders of my church to decide whether this next step was right for me.

(3) Conducive Circumstances.  To now have a tremendous resource like Edinburgh Theological Seminary on my doorstep has allowed me to study theology without uprooting my family.  In addition, the creation of the Pastor-in Training role at the Chapel is allowing me to minister in the church I know and love to people who know and love me.  

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

Without the financial support that the Bonar Trust provides, along with the support of my church and family, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing at the stage and age I am.

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

One great challenge is not to be overwhelmed by the scale of different challenges eg the challenge to conduct myself in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ, the challenge to lead and love my family well, the challenge to learn the various things needed for gospel ministry, and the challenge to see this nation reached for Christ.

One great joy is people sharing their lives with me. I never tire of meeting up with people – young or old or somewhere in between – and hearing what God is doing in their lives.

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

Scott Hamilton

Scott HamilitonOn 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.

Scott Hamilton lives in Edinburgh and was supported by the Bonar Trust from 2013-15.

Tell us a little about yourself

I’m a staff-worker with UCCF working closely with Christian Unions in Edinburgh. My role is working closely alongside the committees to help them make decisions as they CU’s run events across the campus giving students the opportunity to hear and respond to the good news of Jesus. I write Bible studies for groups that meet in halls of residence and I help maintain good relationships with church leaders across the city of Edinburgh.

What ministry training are you undertaking/did you undertake?

I studied part time at Cornhill Scotland in Glasgow whilst working as an apprentice for Chalmers Church in Edinburgh.

What lead you into training for gospel ministry?

Two things were really instrumental. I had a real desire growing within me to pursue a life of gospel ministry and there were others much older, wiser and with much more experience who were encouraging me to undergo training and development. I think both are crucial for me.

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

The Bonar trust graciously enabled me to train at Cornhill, pay travel expenses and also pay general living costs. Without God working through the Bonar trust I would never have been in privileged position of seeing Him working in the lives of individuals across Edinburgh or in my own life to shape me for gospel ministry.

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

I’m still enjoying training for gospel ministry as I share the gospel with students across the city of Edinburgh

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

I remember one girl who studied music at university feeling conflicted that her joy was also her study. I have from time to time felt that same dryness with God and the Bible. It’s so vital for me to regularly spend time in God’s Word for my own personal growth and nourishment. I have also seen young men and women give their lives to Jesus and then go on to share the gospel with others. It’s a real joy to see these students so overwhelmed by the truth of the gospel that they can’t help but share it with others. Witnessing this has been a real joy.

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