A MT post can be wonderfully fulfilling and formative, but it’s not for everyone. Schemes vary. Some are busier than others. Most are a mixture of training and practical service but the proportion of each varies. Some have particular specialities – children’s ministry, music, student work etc. And we’re all different too – different ages, stages and capacities.
Thinking carefully about whether a MT role is right for you and where to apply is important. Ask yourself the following questions.
Why do I want to do this now?
There are many reasons why someone might want to be an MA. What are yours? Be honest and discuss them with friends. Some reasons are better than others – but God can use them all. Make sure you seriously consider other options available to you too. Is now the right time – or perhaps in a year or two? Most people join a MT scheme after university but not all. Others take a career break for a year or two to test whether ministry is right. It can be a wonderful opportunity to be trained in ministry skills and discerning a change in direction at the same time.
What difference is this going to make to how I serve Jesus in the future?
Where do you see yourself serving Christ in the future? Perhaps you envisage yourself serving overseas. Maybe, based in the UK, you’d love to be in fulltime ministry. Perhaps you hope to be making the most of being an active church member. How will being a MT help you do this?
It’s possible you just don’t know where the Lord seems to be leading – a MT role can be very helpful in exploring gifts and talents. Why not make sure you sign up to a scheme which will give you a good range of ministry experience?
What do I hope to learn?
Learning tends to happen in 3 areas – call them 3‘C’s.
First: Competence. An MT role will help you learn various practical skills – from how to set up a creche and organising rotas to reading the Bible and speaking/preaching.
Second: Character. MTs are often involved in unseen menial jobs. Time is not necessarily your own the way that it once was. Your Sunday experience is different – at church, MT’s are always, to some extent, ‘on duty’. Usually you will have a named mentor who will help you navigate these things and grow in Christlikeness as you do.
Third: Convictions. Time as an MT is invaluable at growing and deepening theological convictions. Being in a position where you are not expected to know all the answers and so have freedom to ask questions/express confusion. Most MT roles include some formal theological training – perhaps a day a week. Usually, there will also be some guided reading, small group discussions and one-to-ones.
What is it you most need to learn?
What kind of church would be best?
MT schemes are run in all kinds of church. A city-centre church with a large staff team is likely to give you very different opportunities to a small rural church with a single minister. Ask yourself, how would these opportunities match my learning/training needs?
What challenges am I likely to face? Is it reasonable to expect me to rise to the challenge?
There are potential challenges in a variety of areas:
From a practical perspective. There are times in life it’s easier to be a MT – post-university, before having a family etc. At other times the practical implications can be huge. How will you/your family manage these?
From a resilience perspective. MT roles can be hard emotionally and physically. Ask questions and make wise decisions if you are concerned.
From a spiritual perspective. MT roles are designed to be somewhat testing – because ministry is (2 Tim 2:3-6). You will need to keep your eyes on the Lord Jesus, serving as he served and giving of yourself. It can sound easy, but when you are busy, tired and feeling a bit put-upon it can be hard. You will need to have people praying for you and encouraging you. Serving in this way, with our eyes on Jesus, is a huge blessing and the rewards are great.
Lizzie Ling was a GP for many years, and worked in Southern Africa for over 10 years supporting local churches as they cared for those affected by HIV/AIDS. She is now the Associate Minister for Women at St Ebbes Church in Oxford, UK. She loves new challenges, cooking and entertaining, and the company of good friends.