Grayson Jones Interview: Part Two
As a member of the AOG's National Leadership Team (NLT), Grayson Jones is responsible for the overall leadership of the London and East Area. At Stronger Together 2016 it was announced that John Partington will begin to transition the role of National Leader of AOG GB to Grayson over the next twelve months. In the second part of this two-part interview, we sit down with Grayson to discuss training, the AOG's research centre, and personal challenges related to ministry.
Part one of this interview is available here.
Alongside providing area leadership you’re also the AOG's national training coordinator. This particular role is maybe one that some people will be less aware of. I wonder if you can elaborate on what this role includes?
For the last 3-4 years, the main focus of the national training role has been how we develop our ministers and training. So if somebody wants to lead a church and they'rein a specific church already, or if there's a church leader who wants to go for accredited AOG minister status, then we are the people who train them and make sure the process is carried out correctly -- making sure that they fulfil the criteria we want. So we've got a training package that we sit and interview people with, making sure that they are called and are the right fit for what we're looking at. Not everybody gets through because obviously we have to make sure people are called and are serious... and the timing is sometimes not right.
We've got six teams around the nation that are training in the different areas. And then we've got the training process that candidates go through, to find out about the Assemblies of God: what it is we believe, what it is we hold to, what it is we expect of them as leaders and how they're meant to lead.And then to try and help candidates on issues to do with church, sexuality, dealing with money, dealing with being a trustee and a director and various other leadership issues. There are two conferences candidates attend, and the NLT are spending five days here at Mattersey teaching them. They'll then come through into leadership roles.
So that's the main focus of what I came into, but the brief that we're looking at now is to create a 'training culture' across the Assemblies of God. Many churches don't feel they've got the ability to train people. Sometimes they haven't got the opportunity, the time or the leaders. Some are working part time and haven't got the opportunity to be there [to train staff], or maybe haven't got the gifting to develop in that way. So what we're looking at is, how do we create a training culture across AOG GB, and how do we, at the National Ministry Centre, help people do that. So we've created five DVD sets that are used for our probationary ministers. There's teaching on the Holy Spirit by Dr.David Petts, basic doctrine by Dr. Glenn Balfour, Dr. John Andrews has done some Christology studies, Peter Cavanna has taught on communicating and understanding the Bible, and we've got Old Testament and New Testament teaching too. And another DVD is being created now, which will give us six in total. We'd like to use these resources across the nation in local church academies. We're looking at some in London right now, where we can set up academies, bring people together and get them trained – we need to train thousands of new leaders across the AOG. So that's what we're looking at right now.
And that particular role also entails that you take on the oversight of the AOG's Research Centre. I wonder if you could tell us some more about the purpose of this centre, and how local church ministers can make use of it themselves?
What we've built over the last two years is a resource centre here at the National Ministry Centre, and what we want is people – not just students – but people doing their masters, their doctorate, or anybody who's just interested in discovering more about our heritage and the Bible, to come and visit. So we've got a resource centre that has all the books you need to study the Bible and help you grow, but also we've got the Donald Gee centre, which has archives of the last 100 years of Pentecostalism. We've got amazing things there. Some of these things are completely unique, and you'll find nowhere else in the world – let alone the UK! So we've got some great archives, and people don't actually understand that they can come on-site, book a room, stay here for a night, enjoy the college campus and have opportunity to sit, relax and learn, to connect with God... it's just a great environment. We are longing for people to come and see it! For those who have never been to Mattersey, it's a great environment to come to and to learn. And as I say we have a world-class research centre that's now open and available to engage with.
We also have courses where people can come for one or two weeks, sit with the students and have an experience of what it is to do a short course. They can engage with that as many times as they want to. All of this is on the website, so people can have a look at it. But we want to spread out our learning, so it's not just 'you have to come for three years', but how can we interact with community, how can people interact with us so that they can get the best from us and we can give the best to them.
Finally, I wonder if you might share some of the personal challenges you face in relation to pastoring a church and serving in your role on the National Leadership Team?
I think one of the big challenges is time and opportunity. The opportunities are massive. We’ve got opportunities everywhere. We’ve got great leaders. We’ve got great churches. We have just a massive range of opportunities but also it’s the time then to put into it. So I lead a local church, and we’ve got six expressions in our church. I also do the training and also the London and East, and I also teach here at Mattersey. I enjoy lots of different things. I find that I thrive in doing lots of things rather than doing just the one thing, and I tend to create problems for myself if I’m only doing one thing. I find lots of things to do, and then create more problems! I think at the moment, that I was born for this – I’m enjoying it and loving it. But the challenge for me is trying to make sure that I'm doing well by the things that I’m meant to do.
Everything at a church level you can do because you’ve got a congregation of people every week, and you’ve got a team of people around you every day. But when it comes to AOG you’ve got a group of churches you maybe see three or four times a year, and so to move things forward in an AOG context is so much slower and takes more time: people are very busy and you’re often using volunteers, so to get things done in AOG takes longer, just by the nature of everybody’s involvement. But that’s ok – it’s just getting used to that tension I suppose, and making sure that you’re pushing and doing as much as you can. I believe that the gift of leadership is to empower people to do what they can do and want to do. So if we release more people to do what’s in their heart to do, then we get to do what we do by empowering them and helping them see what maybe they’re not seeing. So lots of opportunities, but time constraints, money constraints, all the normal limitations that we all face I suppose.