The Lord’s words that “the workers are few” (Matt. 9:37) are as true today as ever. Many thousands more godly, passionate, proven men and women are desperately needed not only to serve existing churches but also to plant more gospel works and advance the gospel into areas of the country full of harvest but lacking any witness to Jesus Christ.
Opportunities to Consider
Our ‘bread and butter' work is running conferences for Christians which give them the opportunity to consider the possibility of full-time gospel ministry. As Vaughan Roberts says,
“The aim is not to persuade everyone that they should give up their present jobs and offer themselves as workers to churches and missionary organisations. We all have different gifts. Some are suited to this kind of work, others are best used in other ways. We must resist the idea that some jobs are better or more ‘spiritual’ than others. But we should all be asking ourselves this question: ‘What is it that I could do, as the person I am and with the gifts that God has given me, that would most bring glory to God through the spread of the gospel?’ For some that will mean staying where they are; for others it will mean a significant change of direction.”
There are six annual regional day conferences (typically a Saturday), organised by steering groups of local churches:
- For undergraduate students – conferences in the South West, North West, Midlands and South East of England which have the wider aim of encouraging students to have a gospel vision and make gospel decisions whatever they end up doing after graduation.
- For workers – conferences in the North and South of England for those in their 20s and 30s but also for postgraduate students and those facing retirement to hear clearly the nature of gospel ministry and have the opportunity to think through how best to use the rest of their life.
Resources for trainees and trainers
9:38 also wants to serve churches by encouraging trainees and encouraging apprenticeship/trainee schemes at the local church level. A ministry apprenticeship is a biblical and effective model which gives the trainee a taste of what full-time gospel ministry is like, a taste of theological education, allows giftedness and character to be tested, and can be a stepping stone into further, long-term ministry. We seek to support such apprenticeships by:
- Offering bespoke advice and guidance to local churches seeking to establish a ministry trainee scheme or hosting an apprentice for the first time.
- Producing and curating resources – books, blog and audio – on gospel ministry, guidance and apprenticeship.
- Running an annual national conference for current ministry trainees – a refreshing and stimulating 48 hours at High Leigh Conference Centre which aims to equip them for their current and future ministry and build up a peer group of young like-minded gospel workers.
Most important in all of this is the nature of the gospel itself. There is no good in talking about encouraging people to consider ‘gospel ministry’ without defining (and glorying in) the gospel we are serving and proclaiming. The gospel is the good news of God’s sacrificial gift of his Son to make hell-deserving rebels his children. It is the news of the bridegroom Son winning his bride the Church by a bloody dowry. It is the news of the King, punished in the place of his sinful people, risen victorious to rule, give life and return as Judge. It is the news of the righteous dying for the unrighteous to bring us to God (1 Pet. 3:18).
1 Corinthians 15:1-8 is one of the Bible’s clearest gospel outlines. The gospel is:
- For unbelievers and for believers, of first importance from first to last, the only means of being saved (v1-3).
- Historical public truth – an unchangeable message about what actually happened 2000 years ago, events seen by eye witnesses (v5-8).
- CHRIST – it is all about him and his work (v3-8).
- Christ crucified and risen according to the Scriptures (v3-4) – not just the fact of his death and resurrection but those events explained by the Old Testament which defines and explains sin, wrath, sacrifice and prophesies of the one pierced for our transgressions making many to be counted righteous (Isaiah 53).
For more on the vision of 9:38, see ’The Other Lord’s Prayer’ (Chris Green).