Signs of life
What was remarkable the way Jesus did things was the people he chose as potential leaders. He seemed to disregard things like intellectual ability, knowledge, experience, status, and charisma – all the things we would tend to look for in a leader today. The only thing he seems to ask is that they be willing to follow him and learn on the job.
In the last few years here in South East Edinburgh we have seen a remarkable rise in the number willing to answer that call. The huddling process which was begun three years ago has resulted in several people stepping into different forms of leadership – some teachers and pastors, and some apostles, prophets and evangelists. These were people who, if you had said what they would be doing in just a few years’ time, would have looked at you in dis-belief and said ‘Who me?’.
One of the great encouragements has been the growing number of people willing to be trained in preaching. Over the past year Ruth, David and I have found ourselves in a mentoring role with fledgling preachers, coaching them in their content and delivery. These include Alan Perry, Roger Barlee, Nikki Kirkland, Anna Krabbenhoft, Kay Haggarty and Rachel Willis. If you check the Liberton Kirk and KLM websites, you’ll find their names popping up with surprising regularity, so much so that we are now in the process of planning our second ‘preacher’s workshop’, when about a dozen people will be gathering to share and learn from each other.
To me, however, the most surprising and encouraging development of all has been the growing interest among our teenagers from non-church backgrounds. Bradley Laing is one such individual. He first got to know Alex and Andy several years ago through their detatched youth work programme, and is now, himself, one of our local student youth workers, learning on the job.
Another familiar face is that of Erin Howieson. Erin, who did not have the easiest of up-bringings, became a Christian through her contact with Sarah Beach, whom she still works with up in Gracemount. She got involved with Liberton early on, and was bowled over last year at our response to her plea for help in funding her through her leadership training apprenticeship. I’ve asked Erin to give us a report on how her first year with the ’20 Schemes’ programme has gone, and you will find it in the pages of the October magazine.
You will also find another, much shorter report from a young girl called Siobhan. Siobhan’s story is just as remarkable. She really struggled with behaviour issues at home and at school until she met Ruth Rankin through the Dramatiqui Drama Club. Not long after that she started to turn up at the morning service at Gracemount, and, within a few months, she was asking to be baptised. She is now an active member of the church there, helping to lead worship on Sunday morning. More recently, Siobhan has started to talk about becoming a minister. Her father, (not himself a church goer), having seen the change his daughter’s faith has made to her life, is fully supportive of this, and has pushed hard for us to give her some work experience. This is what Siobhan writes about in the pages of the October magazine. She still has a long way to go, but, with good support and lots of encouragement, I know God will find a role for her in the church of the future.
We live in a time when the media is quick to prophesy the end of the church in Scotland, and when the talk is of growing numbers of congregations without a minister. Maybe, instead of worrying, the best thing to do is to start working out new ways of doing ‘ministry’ using the growing number of potential ‘ministers’ on our doorstep – people who need your support and your prayers.