David Matthews is a second year MTS Apprentice at Christian Reformed Church of Kingston, Tasmania. His Trainer is Paul Kupke.
What led you to do an MTS apprenticeship?
I was at youth group when my youth pastor asked to do 1-1 Bible reading with me. This lead to an awesome mentor relationship, and one where he could train me in youth leading and eventually give me a bit of a nudge, mentioning MTS as my undergrad degree was coming to a close. He mentioned it once, and I mulled it over for a few months without him mentioning it again. The next time I chatted with him about it was when I had decided it was what I wanted to do. God worked through his single mention of MTS and my own internal conversation to push me there. My then fiancée (now wife), Kaitlyn, was super encouraging and supportive too.
What was the biggest surprise that you’ve learned about ministry?
Being in vocational ministry is about people – I originally started MTS with the hope of becoming a task-focused manager that kept people on task. I have been surprised to be shown the importance of raising people up as God’s sheep rather than people who are able to tick tasks off a list. Being in this apprenticeship has helped me minister to people as whole people rather than just ‘youth leader’ or ‘band member’.
One big thing I’ve learnt from my trainer is that ‘the world will continue to turn if…’. He has helped me see that I am dispensable, replaceable and really not that important. He encourages me to not sweat it if something has gone wrong or is not going to plan. God is in control, and the world will continue to turn when things don’t go exactly how I want them too. His message will continue to go out, and can’t be stopped by my mistakes. This is so freeing!
How has your second year been different from your first year?
My second year started with G8 Conference in Sydney. While there, I heard this amazing quote:
“You are not a manager of ministries. You are a shepherd of God’s (individual) sheep. You should be doing all you can to push every individual sheep as far as you can in their journey. Any ministries should be run to serve this purpose!”
This has totally shaped the way I approach my apprenticeship, as I am now striving to see people grow in their faith through the ministries I run. The ministries are no longer the goal, but the tool to reach the goal – which is growth in God’s individual sheep. This has caused me to rethink my priorities and increase the number of 1-1 Bible reading relationships I have.
Can you give us a story from a day on the job?
It’s so easy to forget that in every talk, Bible study and sermon you are delivering God’s word to his people – the word that through the Spirit has power to change lives! When I write studies for youth group or a short talk, I can often write them off, assuming they have had no real impact for anyone. Recently I was struck by the power of the word when we had a few youth do their professions of faith at our church (confirming their faith for themselves).
One of the girls mentioned a pivotal moment in her faith journey had been doing a study from Ecclesiastes last year. When I heard her say that, I realised I had written that study!! The study that I had written off had been hugely influential for her. God works through his word – even when we don’t think anything of it. I was blown away by that and re-inspired as I headed into another term of youth ministry.
What might be in your future?
In the future, I’m keen to keep serving God in whatever capacity. Ideally, I would like to study to become a minister at a church, and keep shepherding God’s individual sheep for the rest of my life.