Author: Davy Ellison
Everyone loves a good news story. Sadly, there appears to be a distinct lack of them. At least they rarely seem to make the headlines. Perhaps this has been all the more striking given the global pandemic. During the past year and a bit many news broadcasts have led with death toll figures, governmental mismanagement and the dreadful impact of the pandemic on families, businesses and entire countries.
In the midst of a repeated bad news cycle, the College is delighted to have a good news story to share. Hopefully, you will be encouraged and cheered as you read a good news story about the Ministry Partnership Scheme (MPS).
The Ministry Partnership Scheme
The MPS seeks to provide a clear pathway from preparation for ministry through theological training to active service in gospel ministry. Each year a group of Irish Baptist College students graduate from the Preparation for Ministry course with good degrees, practical experience and a hunger to serve Christ and his Church. A very real issue for the students, however, is finding an opportunity in Christian service—especially given students seem to be getting younger every year (just like doctors and policemen . . . perhaps it is simply that we are getting older!).
Since 2014 the MPS has made it possible for students to transition from ministry preparation to active service. Over the past seven years 14 individuals have benefited from the Scheme. Eleven churches and two mission agencies have partnered with the Scheme to make this possible.
The good news is that the vast majority of these individuals remain in paid Christian ministry. Three are no longer employed in ministry—of these three one is sadly deceased and one now teaches but remains active in his local church. Eleven remain in paid Christian ministry: three serve as Association pastors, three are in church planting roles (two with Baptist Missions and one with an Association church), two continue to serve in mission, one is in youth ministry, one serves as the Irish Baptist College’s Director of Training and one is yet to finish their MPS placement.
Even more exciting is the possibility of a further five placements coming to fruition over the next few months. It is clear that this is a good news story. The MPS is achieving that which it set out to do. It is providing a clear pathway from theological training to active gospel service.
Good News for the Association
The MPS is not merely good news for the Irish Baptist College and its students, it is good news for the Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland. The Association’s training department is supplying students who have received a solid grounding in ministry preparation, enjoyed the privilege of concentrated time with an experienced mentor/supervisor and are thus better prepared to serve in ministry for many years to come. The individuals who have come through the MPS now pastor churches, spearhead church planting endeavours, work on the mission field and even train others.
Above I alluded to the fact that I myself have benefited from the MPS. I know first-hand the benefit of working alongside someone more experienced in ministry. The opportunity to sit them down and quiz them about every conceivable pastoral issue, the front-row seat to witness how they handle sensitive scenarios and the encouragement of a local church that has bought into the vision of developing individuals for long-term service is invaluable. My experience of the MPS has opened the opportunity to serve in my current capacity. In other words, the MPS works.
As Association churches continue to search for pastors to lead them, missionaries to proclaim Christ and plant churches and even individuals to take up leadership roles in the various departments, it can do so with confidence. This confidence is placed in the God who has promised to build his church—the God who will provide all that his people need. It seems to me that in his grace he appears in some small way to be using the MPS to make this provision.
The MPS is a good news story, and the College is delighted to share it with you.
To learn more about the Ministry Partnership Scheme, or to contribute to the fund, click here.