Nathan’s April Update

Some of the music ministry team having lunch after our training session (sorry I had forgotten to take a photo!)

April has been a busy month!
There was a lot to learn from my first Easter as a ministry intern. For the first time we had contemporary songs sung at our Good Friday and Easter Sunday services – whereas in the past we would sing hymns to the organ. This has been a big milestone for our church, and a huge effort for our music ministry team. For me, it has marked the beginnings of a cultural shift at St John’s – Easter has traditionally been a time where our church have had a lot of visitors, but also when our regular members go away on holiday. That is why I am so thankful for our bands who had practiced hard in the weeks leading up to Easter, and sacrificed their public holidays so that as a church we could welcome newcomers to our cathedral with Christ-centered songs that were stylistically familiar and lyrically accessible. Helen and I also found it tricky navigating Easter with our respective families; while it is time of ‘work’ for me, our families were expecting us at their weekend getaways! We have learned that part of the cost of full time parish ministry is not being able to spend as much time with our families during Easter and Christmas. 

Preaching on the book of Revelation to high school students

Highlights 

This month I held a training day for our music ministry team. A highlight from training was helping our music ministry team members realise the effectiveness of music as a teaching tool. We had an activity where we had to recall a song lyric, and then recall a verse from the bible that taught the corresponding doctrine. What we found was that we were 60% more likely to recall a song lyric than a memory verse. This was a great encouragement to us – knowing that what we sing isn’t easily forgotten. But this also made us think carefully about the songs we sing at church, and what truths they teach the congregation.  

Another highlight has been preaching at a high school Christian camp run jointly by the Normanhurst Boys and Hornsby Girls (affectionately known as ‘Normsby’). Together we looked at the letter to the church of Sardis in Revelation. The youth were challenged to wake up, hold firm to the gospel and repent. I was encouraged to see 23 high schoolers taking Jesus seriously and looking intently into the word of God.  Explore has also started another term, and this time I have been accompanying a guy named Tim. Tim has been coming to our congregation since the start of this year, and God has been slowly chipping away at his heart. His reflection on the latest week of explore has been this: “I like who Jesus is, but I don’t like God.” He has agreed to read the gospel of Luke with me – so please pray that in Jesus he would see the fullness of the God and the goodness of the gospel. 

Reflections

Upon reflection, April has been a very interesting month. It has felt very busy, and yet, I felt like I did not achieve very much at all. There were times where I’ve looked back at this month and felt like a ‘failed.’ It seems like such an unreasonable thing to say given all the good things that have been happening – but I have a few learnings from my reflections on why I have felt this way.  

  • I’ve needed to be reminded that I’m simply an intern, and so training and learning should be my priority, not outputs. I often look at the ministry team and wish I had their skills and capacities, but I’ve needed to remind myself that this is an unrealistic expectation. We serve a kind and gentle God who has made us his handiwork. And it is in His timing (not mine!), I will do the good works that He was prepared for me to do. 
     
  • A bit learning from April has been to work on improving my focus in ministry. It is helpful to remind myself what my goals are over these two years – and consider each ministry carefully before blindly rushing into things. This has been very difficult because I am someone who wants to do everything! Yet God is teaching me that doing a few things well is more helpful than doing many things poorly. 
     
  • In my quiet times this month I have been reading through the book of 1 Samuel. God’s word has revealed to me how much I am alike to King Saul. Often I have found myself fearful of losing control, frustrated at others, and envious of other’s ministry successes. Please pray that I would be quick to repent of these things and that God would be merciful in reshaping my heart.
     
  • All these setbacks and struggles have made me want to do full time gospel work all the more! It has been a hard month, but a good month for my growth. I am so thankful that these experiences are preparing me for whatever God has in store for me for the future. Please pray that I would continue to build endurance for the marathon of full-time ministry. 

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