This blog post has been very kindly offered by David Howell, who decided retirement was the time for taking up new challenges…
Aged 62, having retired from school teaching two years previously, I was reluctant to mothball the gifts God had kindly given me. At the suggestion of the Senior Minister, I joined my church as a 9:38 ministry trainee and I can honestly say that it was the best two spiritual years of my life and another amazing unfolding of God’s plan for my life.
So what is the challenge? It is really to those who are retiring from work, that they consider the 9:38 Ministry Trainee scheme. It is a scheme that is rightly seen as an exploration and initial training for gospel ministry in the future. I fully support that. But my experience made me realise that the over 60’s (or younger if you retire earlier) are a huge resource for the gospel that could be used more. The ministry trainee scheme can unlock that treasure trove of skills and vast experience that often lies untapped.
the over 60’s (or younger if you retire earlier) are a huge resource for the gospel that could be used more.
Retirement is a wonderful reward for years of dedicated work and it is a time to take things at a slower pace and follow your own agenda and do the things you’ve always wanted to do. And you are free in the daytime! You have the time to study and learn new skills as well as use the skills you have honed over your working life. For example, at the church I attended there were a number of Koreans who had come to Britain to learn English. They were struggling a little with English and for them singing songs in a foreign language made them feel isolated. My wife and I went on an intensive four week course to learn to teach English as a foreign language. After qualifying we held conversation classes on a Monday evening for them and, being musical, I was able to also teach them the songs on Friday evenings as well, for the following Sunday. As well as enabling them to participate more fully in worship, the content of those songs proved brilliant for teaching the Gospel and led to some conversions.
But by far the best use of my retirement time has been the Biblical study and personal maturing that the ministry trainee scheme gave me. The personal development as a Christian was so encouraging, the study of the Bible and ways to communicate God’s Word was such an asset, and the opportunity to learn and apply what we learned was vital and refreshing. The whole experience gave me more confidence in handling God’s Word and more assurance of what I believed. We are never too old to learn. The result has been a greater confidence in sharing the gospel with others and challenging them about their ‘beliefs’ – whatever they are.
by far the best use of my retirement time has been the Biblical study and personal maturing that the ministry trainee scheme gave me.
The important thing about being a ministry trainee is that others should benefit from your experience. It gives you increasing opportunities to make positive contributions to your local church.
So, the benefits:
- Personal growth in Christ
- The opportunity to use and develop the skills you already have
- The opportunity to discover other gifts that may be developed
- You bring a great deal of life experience to the role which can be a blessing to younger apprentices
- You spend time immersing yourself in Scripture and listening to God.
The challenge: to consider not putting your feet up, not mothballing your skills and assets gleaned from a lifetime but instead investigate whether the apprentice scheme is for you! If it is not for you, why not sponsor the scheme so that it can be possible for those who would benefit from it but are struggling financially?
Pray about it.