Training For Service
Spiritual qualifications are not simply the end product of training courses or seminary attendance; they are the demanding criteria found in, for instance, 1 Timothy 3 (as applying there to overseers). But that is not to say dedicating time for concentrated study with fellow disciples is not a good thing, for all in churches of God of whatever age or responsibility. Read on to find out exactly why the churches of God run residential courses called “Training for Service”, and learn about its historical development, its current content and in the plans for the future, God willing.
The first of these residential courses was held in 1994, at the home of Alistair and Esther Taylor near Guildford in the south of England. Back then, some of our full-time Bible teachers and brothers from the Churches of God Outreach Committee were guided by the Holy Spirit to develop a residential-style Bible study course to encourage and equip younger disciples for service in the House of God. Since then, hundreds of younger and older disciples from churches of God have been enriched by attending the various weeklong courses. We owe much to our hosts, now living near Royal Wootton Bassett, alongside Colin and Margaret Jarvis. They have opened their homes to us and provided a wonderful ‘retreat’ environment for intensive study of God’s Word.
History of Training For Service
Since 1994, our TFS leaders have given to us richly from their knowledge of God and the Scriptures of truth.
Five different courses have been pursued:
· Life in the Spirit;
· Life in the Kingdom (Hebrews);
· Transformed by the Gospel (Romans);
· Growing Healthy Churches (Acts);
· Life in the Body (Ephesians).
It has been a special joy to be able to also host some of these courses in India, Nigeria and North America.
In 2015, we had a full complement of eighteen disciples from twelve different churches in the Fellowship gathered for the ‘Life in the Body’ course. The Lord again richly blessed our times of teaching, study and fellowship. Our desire has been that, as a consequence of participating in these courses, attendees will go back to their personal and church lives with a deeper appreciation of what God has done, is doing, and will yet do for them as He works out His plan determined before the world was made.
Upcoming Training For Service
From September 2016, a new TFS course has been available for delivery – ‘Being a Believer.’ The Apostle Peter wrote: sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defence to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3:15 NASB). In making such a defence (engaging in apologetics – from the Greek word ‘apologia’ translated ‘defence’ in this verse) it’s vital that we know who and what we believe, and are able to speak of our beliefs in a confident, convincing and winsome manner. This is not the preserve of academics! Peter was writing to ‘ordinary’ believers, encouraging them to be well acquainted with the fundamentals of their faith, and to be ready to share that faith with others in a respectful manner when opportunities arose.
This TFS course, which will run in 2017 God willing, continues to build on the original concept developed in the early 1990s. ‘Being a Believer’, based primarily in the writings of the Apostle John, aims to provide a robust understanding of what it truly means to be a follower of Christ today. Course participants will see how, in a post-modern Western culture that regularly ridicules Christians, it’s essential to know:
1. the reality of what we believe,
2. how what we believe is so radically different from all other worldviews, and,
3. why we are called to be witnesses to the truth.
‘Being a Believer’ explores the foundations of faith and belief in God by studying the fundamentals of what God tells us about: Himself; humanity; the Word of God; salvation and redemption; the disciple’s life and service; and the future hope. Our prayer is that there will be a keen interest in this new course. It is our desire and prayer that brothers and sisters of all ages will joyfully gather for concentrated study, entering into a fuller understanding of God’s purposes for disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.