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.

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.

Our Vision

The Bonar Trust passionately believes that Scotland needs more gospel workers who will share the good news of Jesus Christ. The primary purpose of the Trust is to provide funding for the ministry training of these workers.
Apprenticeships and Church Leader in Training positions are, we believe, the key components in creating a pathway to ministry – training grounded in the local church in partnership with external training providers like Cornhill Scotland and Edinburgh Theological Seminary.  Since its launch the Bonar Trust has funded more than 20 apprentices training in Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrew’s, Stirling, Dundee and the Highlands.
While it is encouraging to see Apprenticeship and Church Leader in Training Programmes established in churches, numbers small and much more work needs to done. As we look to expand the work, the Trust’s financial resources are now the limiting factor.  If you would like to consider supporting the work of the Trust financially you can find out more here.  Over the next couple of months we will be profiling some of the individuals we have supported and the ways they have benefited from the Trust.