I haven’t posted on this blog for a while and I plan on posting some updates when I get around to it… but what I’m posting today is something completely different, and has absolutely nothing to do with running.

Instead, its the first of what will be regular updates regarding what I’m doing this year, and my future (hopeful!) plans of becoming a vicar in the Church of England. I’ll be posting my thoughts and experiences of my year of doing an internship/ministry experience year with St Nicholas Church in Bawtry, and my involvement with the Younger Leadership College in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham. More on this below!

So if this doesn’t sound like your sort of thing feel free to pass this post by, but if you’re at all interested in what I’m doing or what it is like to work with a church, feel free to read on! I thought that since I already had a blog, I might as well put this on here too, rather than starting all over again! So for the post itself on my time so far, click “more” below!

I’m writing this first post on 26th September 2016, the first day of my third week as an intern at St. Nicholas Church, Bawtry. This is what I’ll be doing for most of this year, with Monday-Wednesday and Sunday spent with the churches in this benefice, and each Thursday morning spent in Nottingham meeting with the other interns of the Younger Leadership College.

As part of my exploring ordained ministry within the Church of England, I’m involved in both the YLC and St Nicholas Bawtry in order to serve the church, gain realistic experience within the church and grow as a leader. Through a combination of shadowing Jonathan, the vicar, being involved in meetings and doing some preaching, teaching and leading, I’m fulfilling my goal for the year – which we were encouraged to sum up in one sentence at the first YLC meeting – which is “to learn what it means to be a vicar and to serve the needs of the parish.”

I’m feeling good about the experience so far, though I realise that “full time” work is something I’m new to and so I’m not always the best at getting everything done that I need to. Especially in this role it can be hard to measure productivity at the moment, as some days are very busy and others are fairly empty; meetings, conversations with individuals and work that needs to be completed fits around all that is already going on. I’ve also found that sometimes the days are clearer but there will be things to do each evening and at the weekend, or vice versa. So it’s important to have a clear idea of what I’m trying to achieve and what presents the best opportunities each day.

In reflecting on the first two weeks with Jonathan, we established two things:

First, I need to learn to get on with what I’ve got to do now, rather than planning to do it later or simply thinking about it and putting it off. I may have free time now, but in the future I’ll have lots of deadlines, limited time to get things like sermons finished, and unexpected circumstances popping up that will take me by surprise if I’ve not got everything I need to do done. This is an important lesson to be learned now as I get used to working, and is vital for my future if I’m to be an anglican vicar.

Secondly, I need to continue to learn and grow in the areas of spiritual discipline and leadership, not so that I can feel productive and accomplished, or to feel better as a Christian, but to open myself up to God and make myself available to his grace and direction, which I so desperately need.

This is a theme that is consistent in the books we’ve been reading for study at the YLC too, and is particularly challenging to me. I’ve also done these things to try and feel like I’m doing a good job, and I end up building my identity based on these things or my lack of discipline in. But what I’m learning both through study and conversation with Jonathan is that my identity needs to be rooted in a dependence on God and the way I view myself taken from there, and a way to establish this is to dig deeper in to him in spiritual practices. I see myself very much as learning how to pray this year, and to make the best opportunities to be a disciple.

This is all I can think to say for now, but I suspect that with the first post done, more will follow more easily. Next time I’m sure I’ll follow more of a structure and answer proper questions, but for now this is my rather jumbled documentation of my experience so far!

Alex

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