Rev Craig Corkill is our new Associate Director – Gen1K Discipleship & Leadership Development. Let’s meet him!
Craig, tell us a bit about yourself!
I had the privilege of growing up in a Christian family. Literally my earliest memories are of my parents discipling people in one-to-one contexts and small groups. I remember praying to receive Jesus at probably 6 or 7 years of age. That said, it was in my later teenage years that I moved from piggy-backing off my parent’s faith to beginning to own my own faith, and investigating Jesus for myself. After completing high school I went to my Pastor (who at that point was the late Rev. Mike Dennis) and said “Hey I’m sensing God calling me into ministry. What should I do?” I was pretty ‘green’ so his counsel to me was to go and get some life experience. I went and did a Bachelor of Business degree through UTS, and I worked for the Electricity Commission and ended up in the strategic management area for a few years. I then studied at Morling College (from 1992 to 1995).
Around that time I married Carolyn, who is amazing! Together we have 3 adult children; our eldest is now married and they worship at Greenhouse Church, my daughter and her boyfriend are also there, and my son and his girlfriend are at Narara Valley Baptist Church.
Any sort of family time together fills my tank. Our family dinners are normally very loud and fun, and I just love that! We live on the beautiful Central Coast, so I also enjoy any water sports, as well as boxing (which is fun) and running (which is just hard work).
What is your role at the Baptist Association?
The role is the “Associate Director Gen1K Discipleship & Leadership Development” – so, we’ve got to get a shorter title! Essentially my role is inspiring and equipping churches in the area of both discipleship and leadership development.
In the discipleship area, it’s seeking to equip churches to make discipling people and making disciple-makers normative. In the leadership development space, it’s the journey of making leadership development normal, rather than just something that ‘would be nice to get around to’.
One of the greatest challenges that we have with the Gen1K vision is raising up sufficient numbers of leaders both for the pre-existing churches but also for new church plants as well. We’ve got this wonderful vision of 1000 healthy churches in a generation, but 1000 healthy churches means approximately 1500 healthy pastors in churches, and then leaders within each of those churches as well.
What is your prayer for this role going forward?
My prayer for this role is that it will be effective in both supporting existing leaders but also raising up a next generation of leaders who are multiplication-focused leaders. Similarly, in the discipleship area, my hope and prayer is that discipleship will become normative in churches so that it’s just “who we are and what we do”.
It’s important to make disciples who make disciples for two reasons; firstly, Jesus commands us to in the great commission – so it’s an act of obedience. Secondly, it’s how the church continues to grow and thrive and move into even greater measures of health. Sometimes I wonder if some of the challenges that we face in churches can be traced back to a lack of discipleship.
What is your ministry experience and how did you come to be in this role?
I’ve served for the past 29 years as a pastor in a range of different contexts; I was a military chaplain, a student pastor serving youth, a church planter of a plant which then grew and led me to become a pastor of a mid-sized multi-staffed church, and the last 19 years have been senior pastor of a medium to large-sized church (Narara Valley Baptist Church) which ended up planting two churches – so quite a diversity of experience. For the last few years I’d really been sensing a prompting from God around developing pastors and leaders, both existing and next-generation. I felt that God wanted me to invest even more in that space. So, the role came up and I applied!
What have been some encouragements in this role so far?
The people I work with and the team that I lead are amazing. It’s been such a delight; we have fun together, and they are exceptionally gifted and committed leaders themselves. I’m also really encouraged by the number of pastors and leaders who have been reaching out to me saying “You know what, we too are sensing a real deep passion to get better at making disciples and disciple-makers, and raising up leaders”.
My sense is that in the Church in general, there’s a growing momentum in both of those areas. I think that COVID has probably clarified this even more for churches and church leaders. I’m hearing across the board a lot of leaders say “Hey, we need to get back to the core of what being church is all about”. I think some of the reality of our Gen1K vision is starting to hit as well – that if we’re serious about 1000 healthy churches in a generation, the only way that’s going to happen is if we are making disciples in a healthy manner, who are in turn growing as healthy leaders, and planting healthy churches.
How can we pray for you?
● Please pray for wisdom for me! The task before us is a significant one, both in its importance and in its long-term ramifications, so we need great wisdom on where to invest my time.
● Please also pray that there would be a receptivity in our churches around the vital and foundational importance of discipleship and developing leaders.
● Finally, please pray for Carolyn and I as leaving our beloved church Narara Valley Baptist Church, has been very challenging. We’re thankful though that we’re connecting in another terrific church on the Central Coast – Green Point Baptist Church – which is led by a very gifted friend and colleague – Phil Blair.