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Scotland to Sydney – Invested for the gospel

Dan McKinlay reflects on making a big move to get more into ministry

There are so many questions one should ask about the best way to train for full-time gospel ministry. Are the languages really necessary? What about church involvement? Why not study part-time while also working at a church?

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These were my thoughts in 2014 as I thought about the next step in training for local parish ministry in Scotland. My wife Kirsten and I knew our nation was desperately gospel poor, especially when we considered the heritage of great Reformed theologians and missionaries that had come from there. We also knew we wanted to get the best possible training for a lifetime of ministry. I had studied at Cornhill Scotland and had loved my time there, but I knew I needed more time in the classroom before I was ready to hold a regular preaching and teaching ministry.

We knew we wanted to be trained like these men and women

Moore College had been on our radar for a while. This was not least because so many of the Bible study resources we used at church, the commentaries I poured over in sermon preparation, and the books we devoured on the ‘how and why’ of ministry, had come from Moore College graduates.

We knew we wanted to be trained like these men and women, and to be able to engage with God’s word from first principles in its original, beautiful languages. In God’s immense kindness, and to our great surprise, he provided the means for us to move and study here. Kirsten and I got married in 2014, and within four months we had packed up life in Edinburgh and left our families to study at Moore.

Hear from Chim Ho, Moore College student, about the benefits of being at Moore.

Now I’m in fourth year, and Kirsten works for a Christian publisher in Sydney. We can already look back with deep gratitude to God for this College and diocese. It is a rare thing that a theological college and the local church could work in such close partnership—something that, in itself, would be well worth travelling to experience. One of our biggest concerns, and the concern of many back in Scotland, was that we would be isolated from the Church as we study. We have found the opposite to be the case. The College has guidelines for ministry placements that stop us from being distracted from our study, so having regular ministry involvement and being a part of a church family has not only helped us both to settle into life in Sydney, but also to put into practise already some of what we’ve learned.

There will always be ministry to do as long as the day is called ‘today’. But taking a focussed time to invest in theological study now, especially while we are still young, is something that I am confident will continue — God-willing — to pay dividends throughout decades of ministry to come.

We can’t wait to take all that we have learned … back to Scotland

While sunshine and clear blue skies continue to be a delightful novelty, the real beauty of our time here so far has been in plumbing the depths of God’s riches in his word. Despite my initial hesitations about the necessity of learning the original languages, I can see now that they are an essential part of the preacher’s arsenal. Through them we can engage deeper and apply passages with greater clarity. On top of that, learning from lecturers who are at the forefront of theological research and reflection has meant that students are often exposed to the currents in the sea of theological discussion — something that will serve us well for when these conversations trickle down into our churches in years to come.

At the moment, we are planning to complete our training by remaining in the Sydney Diocese after College for a few years before heading back to our homeland. Whilst there are always needs wherever there are people who don’t know Jesus, we see that the need is particularly great in the UK. Already we can’t wait to take all that we have learned, and all that we will continue to learn in the coming years, back to Scotland in order to serve the church faithfully.

Dan McKinlay is a Fourth Year Student at Moore College, Sydney

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