MTS Apprenticeships, then and now: Dave and Jake Martin’s stories

Father and son David and Jake Martin both did MTS apprenticeships and pursued ministry as their full time vocation. While their journeys into ministry have shared some similarities, there were also notable differences in their experiences and approaches. Their experiences reflect how MTS apprenticeships have evolved over time, going from strength to strength in giving apprentices the best possible development for a lifetime of ministry. 

Dave’s reflections on his MTS apprenticeship

Dave Martin’s decision to pursue ministry stemmed from his heart to see people saved by the gospel of Jesus. Dave describes himself as “stubborn” and an “individualist” who didn’t want someone else to tap him on the shoulder and ask him to consider ministry. He wanted to first approach his minister and ask him what he thought.

“I was doubting whether or not I would be suitable. So I thought, ‘Certainly the best way to find out would be to do the apprenticeship’,” Dave recalls.

Dave undertook his apprenticeship in 1989 and 1990, through the University of New South Wales which was partnered with St Matthias Centennial Park. Philip Jensen was his primary trainer and Col Marshall was his mentor. 

These were the early days of MTS, and many of the structures and systems that exist now didn’t yet exist. 

“I didn’t get a lot of one-on-one time with Philip, but I got one-on-one time with Col when I needed it and had questions. Back in that day, we didn’t even have a weekly one-to-one mentoring time with a senior minister, it was more ‘ad hoc’.” 

For Dave, the study component that is often coupled with an MTS apprenticeship was also fairly unstructured. He attended a training session run by Philip once a week. Dave says the overall format of the apprenticeship meant he needed to be more of a “self-starter in ministry”.

“It was not as formal as what it has become and I think that formality is a helpful thing, and has strengthened the apprenticeship,” Dave reflects.

But while Dave sees strengths in how structured MTS apprenticeships have become, he reflects on his apprenticeship and sees how it has helped to shape how he trains MTS apprentices today as Pastor at New Life Presbyterian Church in Officer, Melbourne. 

“What I’m trying to do now is not dissimilar to what Philip and Col were doing back in the day when I was doing my apprenticeship. Even though the methodology is slightly different, I’ve become more comfortable with just giving the person a go, trying to give them [the apprentice] a loose lead.  

“We have a structure now, which is much better, but I’m not as worried when we don’t stick to the structure because the structure was only ever put in place to help us achieve the bigger outcome,” he says.

Dave hopes that MTS will continue to raise up apprentices to share the gospel, and to keep raising the bar when it comes to training them to be ministry-minded, whether that is in a full-time or voluntary capacity. 

Jake’s reflections on his MTS apprenticeship

After graduating from university, Jake Martin went into teaching but began to see the need for sharing the gospel was greater than the need for teaching. 

“A Bible verse that stood out to me was Romans 1:16, that the gospel is the power of God, for salvation. I was teaching maths and I really liked teaching maths, and I still miss it but it’s not the power of the gospel, it’s not the power of God and it can’t bring salvation,” Jake reflects.

Having heard of his father’s experience with an MTS apprenticeship, and witnessing other apprentices trained by his father, Jake understood the value of apprenticeships. But he was determined to pursue one because of his own convictions, not just because of family influence.

“It wasn’t until seeing the need for the gospel in comparison to the need for teaching that that finally kind of tipped me over the edge,” he shares.

Jake completed his MTS apprenticeship in 2022-2023 at Warrnambool Presbyterian Church, a regional church in Victoria with trainer Ben Johnson. Choosing this church was strategic for Jake as he wanted to experience regional ministry. 

Jake’s time was spread across almost every ministry that churches have to offer. “I was involved in all different types of ministries; kids ministry, youth, aged care, growth groups, preaching, leading services, discipling a couple of young guys and training them as well. I was also in charge of the Compassion sponsorship team.”

Following his apprenticeship, Jake has started studying at Presbyterian Theological College in Melbourne, with a view to becoming a pastor of a church in Victoria.

Why pursue an MTS apprenticeship?

Despite their differing experiences, both Dave and Jake emphasise the value of MTS apprenticeships in personal growth, theological development, and ministry skills.

“It’s really valuable. Those two years will be valuable for your own growth and development of your godly character, and in the formation of your theological convictions and in your ministry skills. Do it, because it won’t be a waste of time and you will benefit. You’ll benefit richly as a Christian from it and your church will benefit because it’ll open your eyes up to ministry inside the church, what you can do, and what is involved in doing ministry,” Dave encourages potential apprentices.

Jake echoes this sentiment and believes that MTS is a truly effective method of training that really informs the person being trained of the ins and outs of ministry.

“Even myself, having seen MTS happen in my house as I was growing up, I still needed to experience it and to see the nature of ministry in a better sense long term,” Jake concludes.

Dave and Jake’s journeys into ministry, though distinct, reflect the transformative nature of MTS apprenticeships in shaping individuals for ministry. Their stories serve as testimonies to the value of intentional training.

Read more about Jake’s experience as an MTS apprentice here.

Read more reflections from Dave on the value of doing an MTS apprenticeship here.