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.

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.

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.

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.

John Torrens

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.

John Torrens lives in Northern Ireland and was supported by the Bonar Trust from 2010-12.

Tell us a little about yourself

Originally from Northern Ireland my wife, Mel and I returned to Belfast from Scotland so that I could start ministry training with the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. We are currently living in Belfast which is great as it enables us to regularly attend Ravenhill where we watch Ulster play rugby.

What ministry training are you undertaking/did you undertake?

After training at St Catherine’s Argyle on their Ministry Associate Programme I worked for Sandyford Henderson Church, Glasgow for two years. Since then I have been training as a minister in Union College, Belfast with the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. I have completed two years of theological study with a further year to go and I am the assistant minister at Richhill Presbyterian.

What lead you into training for gospel ministry?

I was encouraged to pursue ministry training whilst on the UCCF Relay Programme. I applied to St Catherine’s Argyle Ministry Associate Programme where I tested my gifts to see if I was suitable for a life in full-time ministry and I followed the instruction of the Kirk Session to continue my training elsewhere.

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

The Bonar Trust enabled me to train at St Catherine’s Argyle and to attend Cornhill Training Course, Glasgow. Without the support of the Trust I would not have been able to do either of these things.

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

I have yet to complete my training as an ordained minister with the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. I am currently finishing my theology degree whilst working as an assistant minister at Richhill Presbyterian Church.

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

The greatest challenge I am currently facing is finding the time to do all the things that I feel are important. Whether that is adequate sermon preparation, personal reading, discipleship or evangelism it is hard to sufficiently complete all these endeavour’s every week. However a great joy is having the time to study God’s Word, to teach His people, to watch the Spirits influence in people’s lives grow and see people come to know and love the Lord Jesus more.

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

Craig Anderson

Craig AndersonOn 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.

Craig Anderson lives in Dundee and was supported by the Bonar Trust from 2012-14.

Tell us a little about yourself

I grew up in Northumberland to Scottish parents and moved up to Scotland myself in 2008 for university. I now live in Dundee with my wife Amy and our daughter Tabitha.

What ministry training are you undertaking/did you undertake?

I undertook the Ministry Associate Program at St Catherine’s Argyle/Chalmers Church in 2012-2014. As part of this I also studied part time at Cornhill Scotland. I am currently a UCCF Staff Worker, which I also include as ministry training.

What lead you into training for gospel ministry?

There were a few factors. One was my minister David Robertson, I was mentored by him as a student. Another factor was the Words For Life Conference (originally Biblical Evangelism Conference). Here this gave me the opportunity to give an evangelistic talk that I had written and also find out more what is involved in Christian ministry. The third factor was   meeting Robin Sydserff. I first met him when he spoke at the biblical evangelism conference and a year later he was speaking at the Dundee CU weekend away and events week when I was CU president at the time. Through talking with him, David and both of them opening their homes many times to myself and Amy I was led to seriously consider training for gospel ministry and I’m so thankful for the time these men and their wives gave us and for investing in us.

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

The Bonar Trust helped support me financially while I was undertaking the ministry associate program. They also indirectly helped support me by causing me to meet other men and women who were also undertaking training in gospel ministry who have now become great friends in ministry.

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

After the ministry associate program I went to work as a Staff Worker with UCCF in Dundee. Here I work with the Christian Unions in Dundee University and Abertay University. Last year I had the privilege of organising the words for life conference, something which was special for me considering how much of an impact it had and continues to have on my life and ministry. In my work as a CU Staff Worker I help encourage and equip the Christian Unions, train student leaders and disciple Relay Workers (10 month graduate discipleship program with UCCF). However this is my last year with UCCF and from September I will be studying at ETS while God-willing working alongside at my local church as I train to be a minister in the Free Church of Scotland.

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

One great challenge in ministry I find is resting well. It is easy to work and work and work at something you really love and enjoy. But it can sometimes be difficult to also rest and enjoy that to the glory of God.

One great joy I have of working in gospel ministry is the opportunity I have to invest heavily in Relay Workers, CU Presidents and Vice-Presidents and hallgroup leaders. It is a real pleasure to serve these students as older Christians have served me by sharing with them not only the gospel but also my life and to teach them how to read the bible well and how to write and lead bible studies well so that they can go onto to serve the local church better.

If you would like to give to the work for the Bonar Trust and support more individuals like Craig, 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.