Fran served as a trainee at a suburban church with over 500 members.
What part of your traineeship most encouraged you in your faith, and why?
Reading the Bible and praying with other Christians, absolutely. I loved meeting up with people one-to-one and reading the Bible in small groups. And I particularly miss the morning get-togethers! Three mornings a week, a group of us would open the Bible and then pray. Someone would share what they had read in the Bible and then we would pray. It was always a huge encouragement to hear what God was up to in other people's lives and to see their encouragement when I shared what God was teaching me. You also learn a lot from praying alongside older and wiser Christians, because what God has taught them about prayer is born out by how they pray.
What particularly challenged you as a ministry trainee?
Working on Sundays! If you are a ministry trainee, Sunday is not a day of rest. It is a working day. It was the day of the week that I enjoyed the most (I loved worshipping God alongside the rest of the church family) as well as being the one that I found most tiring. But even if I didn't have the energy for Sundays, God always did. And the sufficiency of his grace is made very clear in our struggles (2 Corinthians 12:9–10). Which is why the most tiring Sundays tended to be the ones which best showed God's grace to me.
Would you recommend becoming a ministry trainee? If so, why?
Yes! Because it will help you get to know God better and rely on him more. Because you will get to know a lot of Christians and God will use them to bless you and you to bless them. Because you will see and be involved in a cross-section of ministry and that's a great opportunity to try different things out – especially if you are thinking about paid gospel ministry as a long-term option. And because, even if you don't go onto paid gospel ministry, then being a ministry trainee will equip you to serve more effectively in your local church.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out as an ministry trainee?
Find a Christian you trust and meet up with them regularly to chat and to pray. Be honest with them about your joys and struggles. And I particularly mean your spiritual joys and struggles. You want there to be someone who you can tell (and more importantly, who will pray for you) when you're finding prayer impossible, say, or when you've not managed a quiet time in way too long. Equally, you want someone who will rejoice with you over answered prayer and when God has taught you something new!
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