Louise Roche is a first-year Ministry Assistant at Emmanuel Bristol.
About a year ago, at the start of my final year at university, I went to the 9:38 South West Student Conference. Now working as a Ministry Assistant at my church in Bristol, here are some of my reflections for those considering attending this year…
What was I expecting?
I think at the time I had already pretty much decided that I wanted to do something ministry-related for at least a year after graduating. I was thankful for the opportunity to go to the conference in case it raised any red flags that would make me reconsider my decision. Failing that, I was hoping that it would help me to think through the possibility of working for a church or Christian organisation long-term. Considering the range of people I knew were attending – from those who were dead-set in their ambition to be a church pastor, to those who were just starting to think about spending a year in ministry after uni – I was intrigued as to how the speakers would be able to make the conference helpful and relevant to all of us. I think they managed it!
What did I get from it?
As I remember, I came away from the conference describing it as ‘a spiritual slap in the face’… a phrase I commonly use to describe Christian books or sermons that have newly convicted me of my desperate need for Christ. In this sense it was a worthwhile use of time for all of us there – those who will go into full-time ministry and those who won’t. Getting a better insight into what life is like for those who work full-time in gospel ministry gave me the information and the motivation to help me think through and pray about my future, and also to be better at praying for other people I know who are already working in full-time Christian ministry.
Why is it worth going?
This conference painted an honest picture of the joys and struggles of full-time gospel ministry, as well as reminding us of the role we all have to play in ministering the gospel.
I think somehow it’s easy for us to create grandiose ideas of what it’s like to work for a church or Christian organisation. This conference painted an honest picture of the joys and struggles of full-time gospel ministry, as well as reminding us of the role we all have to play in ministering the gospel, whether it’s our ‘profession’ or not. It was sobering and humbling. And if you’re a student considering going into full-time Christian ministry, it’s not a bad idea for you to start being humbled now… it’ll be a good thing to get used to if my first month of working for a church is anything to go by. And even if you’re leaning more on the side of not working full-time in Christian ministry, it’s worth going to learn to pray for and support those who will.
Here’s what some other students who went last year said:
“A really great day, in particular an encouragement and wake-up call to strive for holiness.”
“The 9:38 conference was really helpful to go to, even though I’m not currently planning to go into full-time ministry. It really challenged me to think about how I prioritise the ministry of sharing the gospel that we are all called to, and the importance of reading the Bible to equip us for that.”
“What I really appreciated about this conference last year was how honest it was. It wasn’t pushy, forcing students to sign up to full-time ministry for life but at points actually felt a little bit like the opposite of that. The speakers were really genuine in sharing the difficulties of full-time ministry but also reminded us that as Christians we are all called to minister the gospel wherever God has place us. For me I found this really, really helpful to hear and think through.”
“I really appreciated the experience and honesty of those who ran the conference in teaching us about all aspects of life in ministry. The conference did an excellent job in equipping me to thoughtfully and prayerfully consider full time ministry.”
Final Tip: If you do go, keep your booklet, and re-read through the notes a year later… I’m really thankful that writing this blog post has forced me to do that, reminding me of some of the things I learned that I had sadly already started to forget.
To book on your local student conference, please click here.