Trans-European Division discipleship coach for Scandinavia Simon Martin said food can be a great way of connecting with and showing empathy for other people. [Photos: Wallace Hakima/Jimmy Botha]

“You have to be brave to do something extraordinary for God,” said Simon Martin, Trans-European Division (TED) discipleship coach for Scandinavia. He was speaking to 77 Scottish church leaders at Crieff Seventh-day Adventist Church during an annual leadership training day on January 26, 2020.

Martin shared how, as a young minister, he found himself shadowing another minister who had no fear of speaking to anyone. For some, it is easy to speak to anyone, and therefore many people tend to think that ministry should be easy. Others find speaking to strangers quite a challenge, and for them, ministry can be daunting.

Learning some principles of empathy and leadership can make a big difference in the way one approaches the situation of helping a stranger, Simon said. Finding something in common with the other person is often a sure way of starting a conversation.

Patrick Johnson, from the Trans-European Division, focused on the needs of local church elders and deacons as part of the annual leadership training event in Crieff, Scotland, on January 26, 2020. [Photos: Wallace Hakima/Jimmy Botha]

“One thing all humans need is food,” Simon said. “Eating with someone is a positive way of doing ministry.”

Food has played a significant role in some of the ministries that Simon has participated in, and, he stated, it has always proved to be a good antidote for fear.

During the annual leadership training day every year, the participants divide into smaller groups after the plenary session in the morning. Training this year focused on elders, deacons and deaconesses, clerks, treasurers, children’s ministries leaders, youth and Pathfinder leaders, communications, and Sabbath School.

A second guest speaker from the TED was Patrick Johnson. “The presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who lead is essential for this work to be completed,” he said during his morning devotional. His message was clear: if the church is going to achieve much, we have to ask the Holy Spirit to lead us, work hard in our local churches to involve everyone, and be brave in our thinking and approach to new challenges.

Part of the group of 77 Seventh-day Adventist church leaders who attended the annual leadership training at the Crieff Seventh-day Adventist Church in Crieff, Scotland, on January 26, 2020. [Photos: Wallace Hakima/Jimmy Botha]

In addition to leading the morning devotional, Johnson provided training for elders and deacons.

“Deacons are an oft-neglected group, just left to train on the job,” he said. “That is OK, but it is really helpful to provide practical material to help their expectations.”

“The leadership training that happens on an annual basis like this serves to set up local churches to continue improving the skills of their local leaders throughout the year,” said Paul Tompkins, president of the Scottish Mission.

Tompkins emphasized that while the Scottish Mission has shown constant growth over the past decade and more, the job is far from being completed. “Leaders and members have the responsibility to continue the trend and bring the message of the gospel to the rest of Scotland,” he said.

The original version of this story was posted on the Trans-European Division news site.

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