Letter from Mike Clark

Dear Friends,

At a recent training event for our DG and youth leaders, Gerard encouraged us all to think carefully about how we might encourage each individual member of our groups to grow as a learner/disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was a helpful exercise. But it caused a “problem” for one of our leaders who sidled up to me, showed me a list of the people in his group, and said: “What am I meant to do? Everyone in my group loves Jesus and has been a Christian for years. What can I do to help them grow?!”

What a great question! Part of this man’s “problem” was his (very common) assumption that while we in Sydney are blessed with a number of outstanding opportunities for training, in the end, training is only for the young or those considering full-time-ministry.

But it’s not! Training is for everyone who knows Jesus! For how else will we receive the “instruction” we need to fulfil our task as “scribes of the Kingdom of Heaven”, who share the treasures we’ve received from God’s Word with others (Matt 13:52)? And while you might no longer be a spring-chicken, for many of us it’s only after the kids are all grown up, the mortgage has been paid off and the dog has died that we finally find the time we need to invest in God’s Kingdom… all of which is simply to say that whoever you might be, it’s too late for you to get equipped to serve the Lord Jesus. And in this age of increased life-spans and improved health, who knows how many decades of fruitful ministry you might still have in you?!

So what can I do to grow as a learner of Jesus? Clearly church is the most important context God has given us to be trained as we hear His Word preached and taught from the pulpit and in our small groups. But here are 4 suggestions you might consider if you’d like to take things further.

  1. Read the Bible in a year: If you’ve never done this until now, it will change your life and there are lots of plans to choose from online
  2. Read, read, read… Since transformation comes through the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:1-2), why not cancel Netflix and get stuck into some not-so-light reading, such as:
    – The Cross of Christ, John Stott;
    – God’s Big Picture, Vaughan Roberts;
    – Calvin’s Institutes (not nearly as daunting as you might think);
    – Anything by J.I. Packer;
    – Good biographies of the saints (e.g. Bainton on Luther, Metaxas on Bonnhoeffer);
    – The Unquenchable Flame (on the Reformation) by Michael Reeves;
    – Not to mention countless quality podcasts, conferences etc.
  3. Cornhill: while equipping preachers is Cornhill’s main focus, the course is designed for specialists and non-specialists alike and offers training in skills which are essential for all who are interested in properly handling God’s Word (2 Tim 2:15) from a raft of experts such as Simon Manchester, David Cooke and othersWhen? Tuesdays during term time.
    For whom? Anyone, young and old, newbies and “re-treads”
    Cost? Around $3000 per year for 2 years.

    Click here for more information. Everyone I’ve ever met who’s done this course is wildly enthusiastic about it.

  4. Moore Theological College: Why not consider going one step further by enrolling in Moore College’s one-year overview course? Stimulating and stretching, the course (full or part-time) is designed to make you useful in Christ’s church in whatever capacity you find yourself. Highly recommended!

Moore is holding an open week next week (10-14th May), and an open night on Monday, 10 May, 7.30-9pm, for any keen to explore this option further. Click here for more details.

As someone once said, it’s not so much, ‘Why should I get trained?”, as “Why shouldn’t I?” What good reason do I have not to? And just imagine the blessings from God we might see – not just for church but also for our local community and world – the more our “spiritual grey power” is mobilised and unleashed through training.

In his grace,
Mike Clark