A regular article written by Phillip Jensen in his role as Dean of Sydney at St Andrew's Cathedral.
22nd February 2004
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In the coming weeks we are commencing several training programmes. These are starting in a small way as we discover how best to fit them into the life of the Cathedral.
All Christians are called to be partners in the gospel, as we engage in sharing the great news of Jesus with others. It is a team effort as we all play different parts in the work, but as with any good team work there is a united effort. Our united effort is to bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ and salvation to people by the prayerful proclamation of the gospel to others.
All Christians are called to be ministers of the gospel. For a minister is one who serves others. The very word “minister” means “servant”. This is not a task for some special people but the task of all God’s people. We are all called upon to lay down our lives for others.
All Christians are given gifts by God to serve others and so build the congregation of Christ. The Church: God’s gospel gathering – is built when Christ’s people lovingly use His gifts. As each and every one of us uses the gifts that God has given us in love of one another that we see the church grow into Christ-likeness.
Each Christian is a gift to the rest of us. God not only gives gifts to each one of us but also gives us each other that we may be served and that we may serve. It is important to thank God for the many gifted people that he has given to us.
Training in ministry involves the discovery, development and deployment of these gifts amongst us. No one is too old and experienced to be beyond training. No one is too young and inexperienced to have no insights to share with others about how to minister. It is an exercise in loving commitment to our partnership in the Gospel, that we take time to train each other.
Many of us feel inadequate about ministering the gospel to other people. We love being Christian and we love the gospel, but we would not know how to explain it to somebody else or to lead somebody to Christ. We may have been Christian for so many years that we are embarrassed about not knowing something so basic. Some simple training programmes can overcome these fears and bring us into the great joy of seeing our friends come to the saviour.
But ministering the gospel is not just about leading somebody to Christ. Learning to pray evangelistically, to welcome people for Christ, to follow up new Christians, to invite people to hear the gospel, to … - there are many aspects of our partnership in the gospel. For it is teamwork – each using the gifts that God has given to us.
Some of us we have felt unsure about doing things in church. We feel it is not our place, or we have not been asked to, or we would not be able to do anything, or we do not know enough or we are not very good at doing things. Sometimes we feel like we are too new at the Cathedral to be doing anything. Training gives us confidence in what we are doing, why we are doing it, how to do it in partnership with others.
One of the most impressive aspects of the Cathedral’s congregational life is the willingness of its many volunteers. Many people at St Andrews generously give their time and energy to the service of the gospel and the benefit of us all. Our partners count money, teach Sunday School, welcome people at the door, monitor the sound system, fold and collate papers, give guided tours midweek, pray for others in times of great need and sickness, usher at the many special meetings that are held here because we are the Cathedral. Many have served faithfully for years and decades.
It is important that we give a lead to the diocese as a whole in the ministry of all believers.
So our training programmes are an important part of the Cathedral’s ministry. In time it is to be hoped that the Cathedral will become a centre for Christian training, and that all the regular congregation will be engaged in being trained and/or in training others.