- If you are at the stage of considering gospel ministry and perhaps weighing up whether to do a ministry trainee year then why not come on a student or workers regional day conference? Have a look at the dates for those coming up soon.
- If you at the stage of looking for a placement church where you could train and serve and grow as a ministry trainee, have at look at all the opportunities being advertised through 9:38 using the vacancies search engine.
- If you are serving right now as a ministry trainee then we would love you to join us at the national Ministry Trainee Conference for a great time of refreshment, fellowship with other trainees and encouragement in the Scriptures.
What is a ministry trainee?
Being a ministry trainee (some churches might call it being a ministry apprentice or pastoral intern) is a great way to test the waters of gospel ministry, to grow in convictions, character and competence (head, heart, hands), to be taught and to be humbled. It tends to be a year or two years with a day or two a week of ‘classroom’ training but also lots of hands on practical service and opportunities for gospel ministry – whether to children, youth, seniors or cross-culturally. It can be done as a ‘gap year’ after school, post-university, pre-theological college, after a number of years in the workplace or in early retirement.
A key verse on the apprenticeship/trainee model is this one:
“But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.” (Phil. 2:20)
The relationship between the apostle Paul and Timothy was unique in some ways but Paul’s pattern of ministry is given as a model for others (e.g. Acts 20, 1 & 2 Thess.). Paul entrusted gospel ministry to Timothy, Titus and others who entrusted it to others… all the way to us. How was the gospel entrusted? In what context was it passed on? Timothy was a trainee-apprentice of Paul. Paul was a trainer-mentor to Timothy. What did that involve?
- Relationship – There is love and respect as between father and son. The father is not overbearing or exasperating (Col. 3:21; 1 Pet. 5:3) but encouraging, comforting, urging (1 Thess. 2:11-12; Eph. 6:4) and above all a humble example (1 Pet. 5:3-5). The son is submissive (1 Pet. 5:5) and eager to learn from the life and words of the father (2 Tim. 3:10-11). This relationship matters far more than a precise curriculum.
- Service together – Apprenticeship is not academic – it is about getting hands dirty. There is content to be taught (2 Tim. 2:2) but the deepest learning comes through service and particularly serving together – the apprentice observing the mentor and the mentor observing the apprentice and giving feedback. The aim is that the apprentice grows not only in skill but in servant-heartedness.
- Gospel work – The apprenticeship that we are talking about here is not in plumbing or electrics or even in ‘leadership’ but in gospel ministry. The priority is proclaiming Christ (Phil. 1:18) the God who humbled himself to death on a Cross (Phil. 2:5-11) who wraps us in his own righteousness (Phil. 3:7-9). This gospel must never be assumed. The trainee and mentor are constantly seeking to know Christ more (Phil. 3:10-14) and to work for the joy of others in Him (Phil. 1:25).
- Proving – Apprenticeship/traineeship is a time of testing. This is true both in the sense that, through hardship and trials, through temptations and through the rigors of gospel service, faith is refined as gold (1 Pet. 1:6-7) and in terms of exploring gospel ministry – the apprenticeship experience begins to reveal whether there is a gifting, desire and right character for long-term gospel ministry.
Some resources for trainees and those considering gospel ministry:
- Clarifying the Call (Christopher Ash)
- What constitutes a call to the ministry (D. A. Carson)
- Starting Well: Making the Most of Being a Ministry Trainee (Orlando Saer)
- How Ministry Trainees can be a help and a hindrance (Ben Cook)
- Persevering in Ministry – Advice for the next generation (William Philip)