About 80 people gathered in St Andrews last month for our annual ministers’ conference. I’m delighted that so many churches encourage and support their ministers to attend this event. It is extremely valuable in at least three ways:
Firstly, it is an opportunity for inspiring Bible-teaching. To be on the receiving end of this is a great gift to those who spend most weeks of the year preparing and presenting teaching for others. This year as Ian Coffey explored Philippians with a focus on leadership, the Holy Spirit made many connections into our daily experience of following Jesus and serving his church.
Secondly, it is a place for learning from one another. A great store of knowledge and wisdom is embedded in the community of ministers, who together represent literally hundreds of years of experience. So exploring together issues such as communal discernment, conflict resolution and developing young leaders, enabled the sharing of significant wisdom from this communal well of practice.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the conference is simply a space to be together – connecting with colleagues, worshipping together and praying for one another. Although ministers are all rooted in local churches and many serve in leadership teams, there is a unique value in brothers and sisters who share this pastoral calling in our churches gathering together en masse from time to time. For us it is part of what it means to devote ourselves to the fellowship (Acts 2.42).