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Gospel workers for the Church in Scotland
The Trust was set up in light of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 9:35-38 – And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.”
There is a harvest to be gathered in Scotland. Labourers are few. By God’s grace, the Trust exists to play a part in answer to this prayer – to see a generation of gospel workers called, trained and sent out into Scotland.
Gospel workers lead and serve in local churches. The local church is the primary locus of evangelism, discipleship and community engagement.
The Trust recognises that training gospel workers is the responsibility of local churches in partnership with training providers. Accordingly, the Trust does not deliver training, but exists to develop a culture of training in the Church in Scotland by supporting people in their training and partnering with training churches, training providers and other organizations.
Aligning with the bigger picture of gospel vision and strategy in Scotland
Scotland is now an unreached nation. In these challenging times, a national gospel vision and strategy is emerging. The re-evangelization of Scotland is the aim.
The local church is the front line in God’s mission. A mindset shift is required in local churches. Evangelism is the responsibility of every local church. Developing a culture of evangelism in local churches is a big shift, but one that is happening across the country. It is important to balance this with a strong culture of discipleship.
Church planting is key. It takes the gospel into new places. Planted churches have a culture of evangelism. From the start they are committed to evangelism, training and planting. Through networks like Generation, church planting is gaining traction in Scotland. While recognizing the strategic importance of church planting, revitalizing ailing churches and strengthening strong churches is also important.
Underpinning all of this is the need for gospel workers, not only those who will lead churches, but people to work in other ministry roles in churches. This is where the Bonar Trust fits into the picture.
A major research project funded by Barna Global in 2015, Transforming Scotland, identified the singular importance of developing leaders:
Yet training leaders, let alone developing a pipeline of leaders, is underground work.
It is unseen. Funding a church plant when it begins, and in the early years, is much more likely than funding the training of those who will lead it, over a number of years, and before the church plant is even thought of. The Bonar Trust seeks to plug that funding gap. Thorough identification, selection, training and support of leaders is important. Funding makes this possible. The Trust’s vision is to create a long-term sustainable annual investment in training to ensure that the pipeline doesn’t dry up.
National vision through generous gospel partnership
In these challenging times, Scotland needs a national gospel vision and strategy, but it cannot be the preserve of one group or constituency. People need to work together. People are, particularly the emerging generation of young leaders. Historically, gospel vision and strategy in Scotland has been blighted by partisanship or tribalism.
Wonderfully, that is increasingly a thing of the past. Perhaps it is due to the urgency of the times, or a consequence of the break-up of the big denominations. Gospel partnership is replacing partisanship. The next generation of leaders is inspiring in their humility and generosity to work together. This is hugely welcome and vital for the future. The Bonar Trust works hard to facilitate generous gospel partnership.
The Bonar Trust works hard to facilitate generous gospel partnership. It is well placed to do so:
- The trustees, while united in their gospel convictions, represent a broad constituency of networks in Scotland. Moreover, the trustees are passionately committed to gospel partnership with a number in positions of leadership and influence.
- The Trust funds people in their training and partners with training churches, training providers and organizations, across a range of networks in Scotland.
- The Trust encourages networking among the people it supports, recognizing that the emerging generation of leaders is best placed, and most committed, to fostering gospel partnership.
Work of the Trust
The development work of the Trust covers the following areas:
- Developing a training mindset in local churches
- Developing a training model
- Developing training pathways
- Developing training programmes
- Developing networks of training churches
- Developing partnership with training providers
Funding individuals in their training
Apart from staff and incidental costs, training grants account for all the Trust’s expenditure.
Funding people through their training is very important, enabling more people to train and get the training they need. Funding creates a culture of rigour and quality in training, particularly when local churches are invested in / taking responsibility for training.
Funding is a practical recognition and response to the significant demands, financial and in other ways, that an extended period of training makes on an individual, a couple or a family. It enables people who do not have financial means to support themselves and their families during a period of training. This is particularly important for people in their late twenties / early thirties, many with young children, who would like to train for vocational ministry, but don’t have a capital base that enables them to do so. Funding through the period of training allows for more flexibility at the deployment end, recognising the variation in, for example, housing provision when new churches are started.
Training grants are awarded on a match funding basis.
This means that any grant given by the Trust must be matched by the training church. Grants also require the individual (where possible) to raise personal support. Currently, the maximum annual Bonar Trust grants are £4,000 for Apprenticeship training and £8,000 for post-Apprenticeship training.
This funding model multiplies the overall investment in training. Every £1 the Trust gives generates a £2-3 overall investment in training.
The Trust is developing an on-line resources hub for churches.
Leaders in Training funded by the Trust meet together annually for a leadership and preaching conference. These are peer groups of around 12. This is a key component in fostering the gospel partnership that will lead to a national gospel vision and strategy.
Progress to date
Training mindset in the local church
The work of the Trust has led to a widespread mindset shift. Alongside local churches thinking church planting is normal, churches are increasingly recognising the priority of training gospel workers.
Significant numbers trained to date
Year on year trajectory of growth
The Trust has achieved a consistent trajectory of growth in the number of people it funds year on year. Parity in the Covid year (2020-21) is hugely encouraging, indicative of underlying growth.
We anticipate the trajectory of growth to continue.
Multiplying investment in training through the match funding model
To date, 213 individuals have been funded by the Trust, totalling £1,740,000. Not including personal support, this has generated an overall investment in training of £3,480,00 +
Directing funding to the right people
The Trust is well placed to direct the resources it is given to the right people training in the right churches.
Pipeline of funding to support people in their training
Through developing a group of Gospel Patrons committed to the vision of the Trust, a pipeline of funding to support people in their training has been created. The ability to fund people in their training year on year is critical to establishing, maintaining and growing a training vision.
Emergence of a generation of gifted, visionary leaders ‘championing’ the Trust
These individuals, all supported in their training by the Trust, are accelerating the vision of the Trust by establishing training programmes in their churches. The Trust is embracing the ablest of this next generation in the leadership of the Trust.
Facilitating church planting
The Trust recognises that church planting is key to the emerging gospel vision and strategy in Scotland. It is wonderfully encouraging to see church planting networks like Generation appointing people funded by the Trust through this model of training. This is clear evidence of the strategic importance of the Trust’s work.
Developing a national gospel vision and strategy, based on strategic gospel partnership
The leaders of the Trust, in their convictions about gospel partnership, the work the Trust does and the networks it connects with through its funding, are an important catalyst in developing a national vision.