Just one day into my new position as CSBC apprentice, I (Lauren) was sent along with Luke to Formation, a Living Leadership conference in Leicestershire. We arrived at the centre, in the middle of nowhere, just in time for lunch. Barely an hour later, we were straight into the first session, ‘Growing into Spiritual Leadership’. This set the precedent for the whole conference; it was absolutely packed with teaching, both talks and interactive seminars, as well as times of worship and prayer together.
It was a great help to be able to meet up with so many other ministry trainees starting the same sort of work in churches across the country. There were about 40 apprentices there this year. Knowing that there are others around doing the same work was encouraging and exciting. We intend to keep in contact as a group, forming a support network, which will hopefully be particularly helpful to those who are the only apprentice in their church – although some are in teams as big as 7 or 8! It was refreshing to see so many young adults, many fresh from university, keen to serve the Lord in their churches over this year.
There was a clear focus throughout the sessions on the wonderful truth that everything we do is entirely dependent on God’s grace, not on our own efforts. Of course they weren’t telling us not to make an effort – quite the opposite! There were many challenges put forward: are we simply doing the right thing or are our hearts in the right place too? Is it our primary purpose to glorify and grow God’s Kingdom? Are we willing to step outside of our respective comfort zones for the sake of serving the church to our utmost capability? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. We were certainly left with a lot to think about, knowing how easy it is to just do as much as we feel we can do, rather than how much we are called to do.
We were also given some fantastic encouragements. We looked at the first two chapters of 2 Timothy across the two morning sessions. It was a fantastic reminder that God has equipped us for the work he wants us to do –
‘For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.’ – 2 Timothy 1:7
This is the Spirit we have been given and this is how we are to go forward in our ministry. We shouldn’t shy away from areas of service that we are uncomfortable with. We weren’t given a spirit of comfort and self-centeredness. We were given a spirit of power, love and self-discipline. That’s not our own power, or our own love, but the power and love that come from the Holy Spirit and therefore we are called to behave in accordance with those. By the grace of God we have been given these positions in the church and by His grace we step out in faith to find out what he has in store for us this year!
In the final session we looked at Philippians 3:1-14 and were shown that there was, in fact, only one command in the passage, found in verse 1: ‘rejoice in the Lord!’ Once we grasp the truth that we are working under God’s glorious grace, there is only one attitude to have towards our work – joy in the Lord!
I think it’s safe to say that we’re already looking forward to part 2 in March, for more great teaching and finding out what God’s been doing with each new apprentice!