Dispelling myths and objections around ministry apprenticeships 

When the topic of ministry apprentices comes up, there are a lot of feelings and experiences that dominate the conversation. Some have only positive things to say and others come with objections and fears about their purpose and execution. 

At MTS we’re all about doing ministry training well, in a way that sees gospel workers raised up and trained in safe and supportive environments that equip them to step out in ministry well after theological training. 

Together let’s unpack a few common myths and objections we hear about ministry apprenticeships, and how we’re working to ensure these aren’t the experiences of apprentices and churches!

‘A ministry apprenticeship is just cheap labour’

The attitude that hiring a ministry apprentice is all about getting someone inexpensive to do ‘grunt work’ or take on a portfolio of ministries no one else wants is a common misconception about apprenticeships. 

Unfortunately, it’s come about due to some churches doing just this, and taking advantage of the privilege of having a keen, teachable gospel worker on their team. 

However, an apprenticeship is designed to be just that – a paid opportunity to learn practical skills on the job, while being trained by someone who has gone before! A good apprenticeship is designed around an apprentice, both using their skills and interests and growing them outside those, not around filling gaps in the ministry of the church. 

This is why we have a relationship with MTS churches and MTS trainers, to ensure they are supported and resourced to fulfil their purpose – to invest in the training and development of their apprentice as a gospel worker, according to the MTS Curriculum.

‘I know I want to go to college, I don’t need to waste two years’

For the keen future gospel workers, two years on the job as an apprentice can feel like treading water before the ‘real deal’. However taking the time to learn practical ministry skills to support theological training will never be wasted, not for the gospel worker or for their congregation. 

Past apprentice Jesse knew he wanted to do ministry, but saw the need to do hands-on learning first! He shares,  “I was already eager to do Christian ministry in some capacity, but I wanted to do MTS because I wanted to get a feel for what it’s like before going on to College and then after College getting out and being on my own, or being in a context where I’m expected to know how to do things,”  

MTS National Director Ben says, “The apprenticeship allows you to live the life of a gospel worker. There are only benefits to doing one.”

‘I’ve already done volunteer ministry so I know what it’s like’

Another apprehension some have about apprenticeships is a lack of understanding about how they differ from volunteer ministry. Service in church and parachurch ministries by volunteers is essential, but also different to paid vocational ministry! 

The best way to understand this difference is to experience it, and this is what an apprenticeship offers. It also creates space for you to be trained and to better know yourself in ministry and life, both the skills and the struggles. It’s a little bit like the difference between being a volunteer in the Army Reserve for 2 years and serving in the Army itself for 2 years. There’s a world of difference.

This is why at MTS we are passionate about seeing apprentices do full-time ministry, with a trainer who is invested in their growth as a ministry worker but also as a mature follower of Jesus.