I’m hanging up my gown …

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Dave Newton, pictured above, reflects on what he has learned after almost a decade as Principal of Regents Theological College.

It was on 5 January 2015 that I jumped into my car to embark on a 140-mile drive to Malvern.

No, it was not to fulfil a desire to walk the hills on a crisp winter morning, rather I was starting a new role in Elim as Director of Training and Principal of Regents Theological College.

As with most new jobs, feelings of uncertainty – what the demands of the role would require and how the new team might perceive me – all raced around my mind.

Fast-forward, as I complete nine years in post and hang up my metaphorical gown for the final time.

Looking back, I have some interesting reflections.

It’s all about people

It’s not the events, graduations, project plans or strategic goals that occupy my mind as I look back, but rather a sea of faces.

People, individuals and groups who have impacted me and hopefully I have been able to impact and invest in.

Tutor group debates, ministers’ gatherings, lights going on in people’s minds, a greater resolve, resilience.

The robust interactions, honest conversations mixed with words of encouragement.

Behind all of this are great people whom God has called to serve his kingdom.

I can remember shaking hands with graduates who never thought their achievement would be possible and coaching leaders to step into their dreams and trust God for the possibilities.

If we begin to think that ministry is about anything other than people first – it is time to reconsider.

Learning really matters

Occasionally, as Pentecostals we can be accused of always placing the ‘DOING’ ahead of the ‘KNOWING’.

I know I have been guilty of this myself at times.

I have heard it asked, “Why does he/she need training? What have they done wrong?” As I step down from my role as Director of Training, I am encouraged that the appetite within our movement for learning and development is only increasing.

Learning from experience, learning from others, formal learning, life-long learning.

It was Rick Warren who famously said, “All leaders are learners. The moment you stop learning you stop leading.” I have been so encouraged to see a culture of learning from MITs, through Regions, from online to face-to-face, youth ministry, evangelism, worship and more.

One of the highlights has been the reintroduction of the Theological Conferences which have sought to grapple with key issues impacting our witness in the world.

The equipping mandate on our movement is one we must not relinquish as we seek to invest in those serving on the ground as well as developing thought-leaders confident to speak into culture and society with an authentic Pentecostal voice.

Regents is a rich resource

In the early days of my role, I recall regularly asking the question: “How can we make Regents more relevant to the Elim movement?” It seemed that the college had started to occupy a peripheral rather than a central role in training women and men for mission and ministry.

A radical overhaul of curriculum, delivery model and mentality has seen the college once again take a key role in ministry training and formation, alongside developing a centre of research for our movement.

At the most recent ordination service, 75 per cent of those being ordained had received some training from the college.

More pastors are returning for further study and context-based learning has made Regents so much more accessible.

With so many denominations seeing their colleges struggle and close, it has been such a joy to welcome almost 80 new students this academic year on all programmes.

Additionally, the creation of the Research Institute has amplified our voice and influence across the Pentecostal world.

An increasing number of graduates are also taking up roles in education, arts, third sector charities or serving the wider church.

Stepping back from this role to take on the new challenge of National Director for Scripture Union, as an Elim minister I am committed more than ever to raising up leaders who reveal Jesus in this nation to this next generation and look forward to extending my personal influence and praying that God continues to extend his kingdom.

From Direction Magazine

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