First Day

Yesterday was my first day at college.  Steph from our Leadership Team having decided to join me on the course we set off together at silly o’clock (otherwise known as before 7am) to get to Sheffield for breakfast at 8:30.  And then suitably fortified by lots of coffee we embarked on the first day of training.

First impressions are very positive.  Opening worship was really powerful, with such a sense of the presence of God among us as we sang his praises.  And it never fails to amaze me what old hymns are being rediscovered in the context of contemporary worship – I wouldn’t have expected to ever sing again in corporate worship, “There is power, power, wonder-working power, in the precious blood of the lamb,” and in multi-part harmony too!

Being the first day there was lots of practical information about who everyone was, how to use the online learning environment, practical procedures for submitting assignments etc.  But we also found time in the morning to reflect together on the nature of ministerial formation.  This is not education, that is the receiving and understanding of knowledge, or training, that is the learning of practical skills.  It encompasses both of these but also the formation of the whole person and character into what God desires it to be.

And in the afternoon community session, Daniel McGinnis, Head of Faculty, unpacked for us more of the vision of St Barnabas to train missional leaders with a vision to grow the church in the North of England – inspiring stuff!

So, one Monday down, 98 to go – looking forward to all that God is going to teach me over the next 3 years.

Reflections 3 years in

Yesterday was 1st September, and marked 3 years since I commenced paid Christian ministry.  I took some time to reflect on my experiences, for most of that time in St Albans, and for the past 3 months in Beverley.  There have been some real encouragements along the way, times of knowing God’s presence in a really meaningful way, the sense of having truly helped people in their Christian walk, the brothers and sisters who have encouraged, supported, and prayed for me in my ministry.

There have also been challenges.  Church people who have been challenging to work with and have, deliberately or otherwise, undermined and discouraged.  Difficult personal situations we have faced as a family, and times when we have felt under very real spiritual attack.  It has not been an easy road to walk.

But God has been faithful, through the good times and the bad.  At times it has felt like he wasn’t there, I have questioned why things have to be the way they are, and a couple of times got really close to giving up.  But looking back now I can see what he was teaching me, and how I have grown over the past 3 years.  My relationship with God is deeper and richer, my personal relationships have been enhanced, and I have a clearer sense of God’s calling and purpose than ever.

So I give thanks for all God has done in and through me so far, and trust in his continued presence and enabling in whatever the next 3 years will bring (even as I confess I still pray for it to be easier than the last 3).