A training church
Danny Rurlander fills us in on the training culture that is developing at Moorlands Evangelical Church in Lancaster from having Ministry Trainees.
The work at Moorlands, Lancaster, began in 2005 as a church plant initiated by the North West Partnership. From the start we have simply aimed to be a straight forward Bible teaching church which is accessible to all people in the city, especially those with no church background. We have also had a particular vision for the 20,000 students who make up a quarter of the city's population during term time. From the beginning we have been determined to make ministry training for all our church members, and the recruitment, equipping and sending out of workers into the harvest field, a key focus for us as a church, and a biblical value that touches everything we do. An important part of this focus on training has been the opportunity to provide a Ministry Training Scheme for people, (especially, but non exclusively, graduates), who we see as potential candidates for a life time of full-time gospel ministry. As well as enabling them to test their suitability for full-time ministry, the one or two year scheme seeks to stretch, train, and equip them to be more effective members of a church, wherever they end up. The 9:38 Student Conference has played a vital role in helping students to think about whether the scheme is for them. They usually attend the conference having already done some thinking about it with us, and the conference helps to clarify issues for them and helps them to take the next step, whatever that may be for them.
We began with a single Ministry Trainee, working closely with me in the very early stages of setting up the church. We now have four trainees and are into our fourth year of the scheme. Looking back on this relatively short period it is easy to see the huge benefit they have brought to the church. Firstly because we aim to give them a real, practical experience of ministry, not just a theoretical one, they experience the widest possible range of ministry opportunities in the church, and so they actually do play a part in growing the work of the church right from the start. Secondly, and even more importantly, the presence and profile of the trainees in church serves to regularly remind the church family as a whole of the importance of training, and of our vision to equip and send out workers into the harvest field. Having a Training Scheme costs everyone, in time, in money and sometimes, in the short term of course, in quality! But these costs remind us of the importance of thinking outside our own locality and our own comfort zone. We see operating such a scheme as part of our gospel mission outside Moorlands, as in the long term we hope our Ministry Trainees will grow the kingdom elsewhere. Thirdly, in taking responsibility for the training of the trainees I have benefited enormously myself. I have had to think through things more clearly than otherwise and having people in training on staff has forced me to avoid the ever present temptation to pragmatism and to think more rigorously about why we do what we do. Finally it has been a joy to minister alongside people keen to serve Christ in the local church.