What are some of the rewards or challenges of training an MTS Apprentice in a Regional & Rural area?
Building God’s Kingdom is the biggest thing that is happening in all corners of the world. So Passing on the Baton and training gospel workers for the harvest field is a great privilege no matter where you are living. Community happens in country towns, so the effect of someone giving up their secular job and being prepared to do a full time Ministry Apprenticeship with the church does get noticed in the town, and is a great witness for Jesus, as people watch on and are challenged. It’s been rewarding seeing Matt sacrificially following Jesus and stepping up serving Him. One of the challenges out here is always distance and the time to travel when wanting to attend a conference or event.
Tell us how you ended up being a trainer and how many apprentices have you trained?
I have served as a minister of the gospel in Armidale Anglican Diocese for 20 years, with the last 11 years of ministry being at Gunnedah Anglican Church. Over that time I have had the privilege of training ten Assistant Ministers, and also two School Chaplain’s which I have used some MTS materials with. Being involved in evangelism, discipleship, training, and sending has always been my heart in ministry. So seeing Matt grow in His faith, godliness, and gifts and abilities meant tapping him on the shoulder and encouraging Him to think about ministry in a full time way. Matt married my daughter a few years ago, so Assistant Minister Aiden Sibrava and myself share Matt’s training.
How have you seen your MTS Apprentices skills develop?
Before Jesus returned to heaven He assured his disciples that they wouldn’t be continuing His ministry alone, He would be with them (Acts 1:6-8). Therefore whatever God calls us to do for Him He always equips us for. So it’s very humbling to have God work through you and be used in His service in His strength. So it’s been very encouraging seeing Matt serving and growing but also seeing God strengthening and equipping Him. MTS pushes you out of your comfort zone and causes you to step out in faith but doing that puts you in a good place for God to be at work, shaping and developing you as a gospel worker. Matt has been showing great potential as a preacher of God’s Word, and in preparation and delivery is seeking to be a workman who correctly handles the Word of Truth. He has oversight of a holiday kid’s club that we are planning in the upcoming school holidays and has been doing a good job gathering a team and meeting up with potential section leaders. His heart for Jesus and desire for others to be faithfully following Jesus has been shining through in His Service Leading. Matt meets up to do 1 to 1 with two senior teenage boys and quiet often their mum is left waiting in the car for them at pick up time, as they are in deep discussion with Matt about God’s Word.
What challenges are you facing in your church / churches in regional and rural areas?
Regional, rural churches need to be always reaching young families otherwise they will end up an aged church because of the ‘Youth drain’ that happens in country areas. Most young people will leave high school, then the community and church to go to University, or for employment in the cities. Therefore Youth Ministry is missionary work out here that benefits churches in other places not often your own church, which is ok because we are all part of one Kingdom with different roles to play. Therefore when the reverse happens, a godly trained young adult moves to a regional, rural church it is a great blessing. Varying seasonal conditions also affects employment and finances in rural communities, and that has a flow on effect into the church, making budgeting and regular income streams a challenge at times. Also having Clergy willing to come and minister in rural and remote areas is a challenge in many places.
What are the benefits of having an apprentice who is planning to stay in the country?
Rural people are uniquely gifted to minister to rural people so it’s worth identifying and investing in rural people out here with ministry potential. Time is always precious in ministry and plenty of good things are always calling but what better time could be spent for the Kingdom than investing in a church leader of tomorrow. Particularly giving someone who has grown up in a rural area a taste of rural ministry. It’s strategic for effective country ministry to be encouraging and equipping rural people for rural ministry.
Generally speaking there is a big need for people who are prepared to serve in rural and regional areas and what better way to be equipped for ministry in the ‘bush’ than to do an apprenticeship in the ‘bush.’ God is able to use you wherever you are, even in a small rural town of a thousand people. As I regularly say to people ‘if you can have an impact on a thousand people no matter where you are living you are doing very well!’ So it’s not a lack of numbers that’s the problem in a country town. Rather there are many doors still open for the gospel, with the church still seen as an important part of the community, and the minister as a community leader who is asked to take part in regular community events, like speaking at Anzac day services, running the community Carols, to mention a few, which are all great opportunities to bring the gospel to rural people.
Why should someone considering full time ministry in Regional & Rural Australia do an MTS Apprenticeship?
An MTS apprenticeship helps form and test a person’s conviction, character, and competence, with the feedback and encouragement of an experienced trainer. So this is extremely helpful in working out if you are suited to full time ministry in a regional or rural setting. MTS gives you real experience and brings you into contact with others who are serving in regional and rural areas and building up this network of partners in the gospel is invaluable for your future ministry. Most importantly, an MTS apprenticeship teaches you failure in a supportive space, and reminds you of an incredible Saviour who is with you as you seek to continue the ministry He began. So an apprenticeship draws you into a prayerful dependence on God as you seek to proclaim His Word and minister to people with the help of His Spirit. That’s great training for ministry in Regional and Rural Australia.