Reflections of a trainee pastor, part 1

Sep 252014

I’m starting to write this on the train home from my induction week at Spurgeon’s College in London, where I am starting study as I train to become a Baptist minister. (I suspect I won’t have time to finish it on the train. If so, I’ll finish it later.)

pastor in training 1

It’s been a good week, and these are some (fairly unstructured) cogitations it has sparked.

Character matters

I’m going to be studying a lot of theology in the next few years. That important, because thinking right about God, talking right about God, these things matter. I’ll also be learning practical things – preaching, pastoral care, leadership, how to conduct a funeral. These things matter too. Pastors should be competent.

But the emphasis this week wasn’t on knowledge or skills. It was on character. One tutor said this:

I would rather have a pastor who was a good person but couldn’t preach to save their life than a phenomenal preacher who doesn’t have integrity.

This is important. Over the next three years (at college and in my church), I’m going to be invested in as a person. My walk with God. My personality. My character. These are important things to get right. I pray I do.

I do wonder though: do we sometimes emphasise capability over character?

Journeys are better with friends

I made friends this week. We laughed, shared stories, played cards, got to know each other, talked deep stuff, and (unexpectedly) saw a football match. Someone bought me a pie.

I’m starting this journey of training and formation, and I’m glad there are folk doing it with me. Of course my wife, my family and my friends (I have fantastic friends who I love!) are with me, but they’re not also training. They’re doing other wonderful things!

There’s something wonderful about going through a situation or process or season of life with people who are doing exactly the same thing. It creates support, encouragement, energy, perseverance.

Life can be lonely. Church ministry can be very lonely. Im glad training and college won’t be.

I’m excited for this life!

This week has reminded me just how much I’m excited to be in the kind of work, the kind of ministry, I’m in! I’m excited to be a pastor. I’m excited to train, but I’m even more excited to be doing it.

I first sensed a calling to church ministry when I was 17. I was excited then, and I still am now. I’m looking forward to following this where God leads.

Why mention that? I just hope I’m still as excited in three years when training finishes. And in ten. And thirty. And fifty years. If you fancy praying that I would be, I wouldn’t mind.

(Turns out, I did finish it on the train…)

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New beginnings (or, ‘The future of Limping into Truth’)

Sep 222014

Wow, it’s been over a month since I last blogged. I took a break over August because life was busy, and didn’t quite manage to pick up again in September. I’m sorry about that. Life has been a bit up in the air recently, and carving time out to write for this blog has slipped.

I don’t often do updates on what’s going on in my life on here, but I’ll do a quick one, because there’s lots of new stuff going on, and then I’ll talk a little about plans for this blog in the future.

New beginnings

In August, I started a new role at the church that Mel and I have been part of for the last two years. I am now a pastor, and my full job title is ‘Pastor: Online Mission, Discipleship and Teaching’. I’m really excited about continuing as part of the family and the team at Gold Hill. I believe there are lots of great things ahead for us. And for me!

That role is part of the three-year training programme I am starting to become a Baptist Minister. I write this post from the college I’ll be studying at. It’s all rather new, and the one thing I’m really understanding so far is that it’s going to be rather busy! (This was my #firstdayatschoolselfie…)


We have also just bought our first house. That’s been great, but just as stressful and time-consuming as you’d imagine buying a house to be. It needs quite a bit of work, so lots of my time off will be spent working on that.

This isn’t new, but I’m married and in the business of all those new things I do not want to fail to invest in time with Mel my wife and in our marriage.

The future of Limping into Truth

All that adds up to – in all reality – less time to spare. I’m totally cool with that, but I also know it means priorities need to be clear.

With that in mind, I want to say this: I’m fully committed to keeping this blog going. This isn’t an ‘I’m taking a break’ post or a ‘I’m finishing now’ post. I will carry on limping into truth.

(As an aside, the reasons I started the blog are perhaps even more important as I step into more intense study and training and as I exercise more responsibility in leadership. It’s important to me.)

Realistically, though, I might blog a little less. I had been aiming at about 8 posts a month, and now might be looking at a bit less than that. I don’t expect the types of things I blog about to change massively, though my life shifting a little is bound to mean I’m thinking about different stuff. I have some more great posts to publish in my ‘Why are you a Christian?’ series, and some stuff I know I want to explore.

So watch this space!

This feels a little like a non-post. But I know at least a few people are interested to hear about what’s going down here.

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