Joys & Gaps in the Training Fund
Adrian Reynolds says it’s always a great joy to give money away from our Training Fund. But he also says there are some gaps in the applications that he’d love to fill.
One of my favourite jobs here at FIEC Towers is handing out money!
We’ve been extraordinarily blessed by very generous donations into the Training Fund which we can then distribute to churches and individuals pursuing Christian ministry. Within my training remit, there’s almost nothing better.
A Great Task
It’s a great task because seeing others’ generosity is a remarkable cause for thanks. A few individuals have given the largest bulk of almost £2m we’ve received since the fund started, but it’s every gift that thrills me. From the £10 a month standing order to a church deciding to give to the fund as part of its mission giving. It’s the combination of all these gifts which is so striking – and not only a cause for thankfulness, but a regular and challenging prompt to my own heart to be a generous giver.
It’s a great task because each grant given represents another man or woman being trained for ministry. Some of these people will serve the Lord full-time in paid work. Others will eventually settle into secular employment, but their training will make them superb elders, deacons, women’s and family workers, youth and senior workers and so on. It’s exciting to know that whatever the final destination, investment is rarely wasted.
It’s a great task because the applications demonstrate a real commitment to training in our family of churches. Training is not simply something we talk about, it’s something we actually do. That’s a culture shift from a generation past when training opportunities were few and far between. For example, there’s been a significant shift in the number of smaller churches setting up training posts – not because they need to (for example, a church growing and requiring an assistant) but because they know it’s a gospel imperative.
And finally, it’s a great task because there is an increasing diversity amongst applicants for funds (with one exception, which I’ll explain in a moment). Becoming a more diverse church, appropriately representing the cultures and ethnicities of those around us is a slow process, and one where – to be honest – we’re some way back. Seeing progress amongst training posts, however, is thrilling and heart-warming and gives me hope for the long term.
Nevertheless, though I leave our grants meeting heartened by all of these factors and more, there are some obvious gaps. I long to see some of these filled – or at least some progress towards them.
First, we have very few applications from women. That’s a shame because as a family of churches, we greatly value women’s ministry in the church and we long that training should form an integral part of the change that is needed. Because we’re catching up in this area of diversity, churches often feel that they need to appoint a fully-formed women’s worker or family worker. Not so. Why not think about creating a training post?
Second, there are very few applications for those whom the Lord has called to be evangelists or pioneers. Again, training serves these people very well. I often hear about churches deciding that their next appointment will be an evangelist, but then struggling to fill a post. We need to be investing in training roles to make development in this area a reality.
Third, there are a plethora of other ministry jobs for which training may be suitable – even if it might not look precisely like other training roles. We recently funded, for example, a Christians Against Poverty training course for someone. What about those serving the church in other roles: an executive pastor in a larger church, for instance; a seniors’ worker or someone working with vulnerable adults?
Training for these roles might look different than for, say, a full-time pastor candidate, but training is important nonetheless.
We never quite know how much money we will have to give out. In November, when our grants team next meets, we’re looking short of cash. Why not share my joy and consider giving to the fund?
And why not “make my joy complete” by thinking a little out of the box in terms of the training roles your church is creating.