Matt Turner: Using His Loaf
MINISTERS often say they have to juggle lots of balls and for students at NBC, they get plenty of practice! Matt Turner is a fine example.
He combines ‘typical’ church roles such as worship-leading and preaching at Beacon Church in Stafford with serving as a chaplain to Staffordshire Police and as pastor to ‘House of Bread’.
House of Bread began a year before Matt started at NBC in 2011.
He explained: “We give dinners to the homeless, the vulnerable and lonely and isolated people and recently started ‘Bread Church’. We make bread, two loaves, keep one and give one away; we say prayers and share a meal. We also run a community garden, just got some funding to develop and create into a social enterprise.
‘House of Bread’ has also spread to two satellite centres in challenging parts of the town, in conjunction with local churches. They also run the food bank in Stafford and work closely with the council and the police.
“It’s just a fabulous privilege to be involved,” said Matt.
Matt makes the most of the accommodation at NBC to give him two study days each week. This has helped him think about his ministry.
“The biggest compliment I could give the college is it really helps you to think about what you do,” adds Matt.
“I have grown in my belief that God has a particular love of the poor and calls his church to lead the way in remembering the poor. That has not been rammed down my throat but I have had the opportunity to think about it, which has been valuable.
“Here, they don’t tend to teach you to think a set way. It allows you to consider for yourselves what the Bible says and how that affects our life. I am really glad that they don’t say this is what you should think about the Holy Spirit, human sexuality or whatever. They give you the tools and encourage you to take ownership of it.
Matt acknowledges that it can be a challenge to fit church commitments around college, he has found his tutors to be supportive.
“Some people find tutorials a bit of a bind but I have always enjoyed them. You get the sense that the tutors really know all about you. Sometimes you have a pastoral visit and you can’t remember what happened last time; it is never like that! None of them take themselves too seriously either. You can wind them up a bit!”
Matt’s ministry of roles both in and outside of church is becoming increasingly typical with ministers taking up chaplaincy opportunities.
“It has got to be both,” he says. “I lead worship most weeks and preach every other week on average. But I am great believer in the church - particularly the minister because they have the time more than anything else - being outside of its four walls. Chaplaincy is a classic way of doing that
“Where I worry is when I see chaplains who are out on their own and who are not connected to a church. There is a real value in my particular role being grounded in a church, being based in a church, responsible to deacons, responsible to a minister. But then I am released to work in the police HQ and plant church within House of Bread.”
Have you changed since coming to college?
“It is very hard for me to answer but people at church say I have grown and become more well-rounded. Being here for four years, there is something about going through the thought process of all aspects of ministry and you do come out differently.”