Where might the call to ministry take you? Where might that journey begin?
Have you ever sensed God nudging you to step out and take a risk? Perhaps you have experienced a growing sense of being drawn towards ministry, church leadership or pioneering in some form but your life circumstances mean you think God must surely be pointing at the person next to you instead!
As someone who juggled raising a young family whilst training for ordained ministry, I am convinced that God knows what he’s doing when he calls an individual. He is not surprised by the package that comes with that person but is supremely able to find a way to weave the complexities of their circumstances into his good purposes for them, their loved ones and his beloved church
(VIDEO: Students and staff of Bristol Baptist College sharing the college's core values.)
One of the reasons we might dismiss such a call is geography. Living in the South West is a blessing in so many ways, but it can also present seemingly insurmountable obstacles when it comes to accessing facilities and training to pursue the calling to ministry that we (and others) recognise in our life. Bristol Baptist College is our regional training institution, but may not feel particularly “local” to many of us in the South West.
However, in September 2021 the College launched its first regional hub in Exeter to deliver the 3-year ministerial formation programme, preparing women and men for Christian ministry, be that pastoral ministry, chaplaincy or pioneering work. This programme runs one day a week throughout term time and is based at the SWBA offices in Exeter. Together with a couple of ‘community’ weeks at other locations further afield, the programme focuses on developing godly character, training in deep theological reflection, and equipping competent and Spirit-filled ministers-in-training in practical aspects of ministry in all its varied forms.
For those looking to gain academic theological qualifications as part of their training, there are now two options - to take modules either on a day-a-week basis at Bristol or in block weeks at Bristol, which are offered at various points throughout the year. The combination of weekly sessions in Exeter and whole weeks occasionally at Bristol might mean that the obstacles of distance and availability might not be as high as they once were.
Students at the hub are usually based in a church or pioneer context which offers practical experience and a real-life situation to reflect on, experiment with and receive support and encouragement from. This hands-on context is vital in the training process and, together with academic studies and the formation programme, helps to prepare the individual in a rounded and grounded way.
“The Exeter hub is a real ‘hub’ of community, challenge and support. It’s allowing me to train for ministry, be formed as a person and explore my calling - all local to where God has placed me.”
So where might God be calling you (or someone you know) to begin the journey of being shaped and equipped for ministry? It could be closer than you thought…
Eleanor Moffatt, Coordinator - Exeter Hub
If you would like to find out more about our Ministerial Formation training programme in Bristol or Exeter, please contact Tim Welch (email@example.com) or Eleanor Moffatt (firstname.lastname@example.org)