Being a ministry trainer helps me be a better pastor

  • Russell Smidt
  • 8 December 2015

It’s been 12 years since I left the workforce to be involved in ministry training and fulltime gospel work. Recently, I’ve spent some time reflecting on why I invest time, effort and energy into training others for ministry.

I think quite a lot about ministry training. I get to be part of the Presbyterian Church’s METRO team, overseeing and mobilizing formal ministry training. I am involved in the hands-on training of others in my congregation as they preach, lead services and small groups, and organize youth and school ministries. And I benefit from being trained and mentored by others in ministry.

Above all else, my personal ministry philosophy and commitment to ministry training is shaped by Ephesians 4:11-13:

And [Christ] gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

A big part of a pastor’s ‘job’ is to train and equip others for ministry. This is how Christ works in and through his church to grow us in unity and to maturity. I’m committed to this.

At the same time, I’m glad ministry training is a big part of my life because I’m convinced it helps me be a better pastor. How? Here are some of the ways in which being a ministry trainer has impacted me:

  1. A ministry training philosophy (Eph 4) reminds me that my church is really Jesus’ church. It grows and matures because of him. So, as I invest in others to serve in Jesus’ church, I’m reminded that I’m replaceable.
  2. A commitment to ministry training keeps me looking for the next generation of gospel workers that God is raising up to serve in his church, enabling growth.
  3. Being a ministry trainer exposes me to working in a ministry team. It also takes away some of the loneliness of gospel ministry.
  4. Ministry trainees keep me purposefully thinking about why I do what I do in ministry.
  5. Trying to be intentional about ministry training means I have to plan ahead to create opportunities for others to serve.
  6. The more intentional I am about ministry training, the more opportunities I start to see for others to serve in ministry.
  7. Inviting someone else to walk alongside and learn from me exposes my life to them. That vulnerable sharing of my life is good for my godliness.
  8. Seeing someone else have a go and grow in ministry spurs me on to keep serving Jesus and his people.

There aren’t opportunities every day and every year for me to invest in formal ministry training. Sometimes suitable people are not available or willing to be trained. Sometimes I’m pulled in other directions. But I am convinced that while I’m prayerfully thinking about ministry training, looking for ministry training opportunities, and engaged in ministry training (long-term or short-term, formal or informal) I’m a better pastor than I would otherwise be.

I want to encourage anyone who has been a ministry trainer to reflect on how it has helped you as a pastor/gospel worker. And if you’re thinking of getting trained, maybe you’ll feel a bit more comfortable knowing that the benefits flow both ways!