Kids and youth ministry is a vital part of most churches. It’s a great way to reach out into the community, and discipling even the youngest of children is important to helping them grow up in faith.
That’s why MTS apprentices are urged to gain experience and training in this area.
We sat down with two recently graduated apprentices, Tara Fryar from Rosemeadow-Appin Anglican Church and Amanda Barber from Bowral Anglican Church, to talk about their experience of MTS and particularly the kids and youth ministry they were involved in while they did MTS.
Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?
Tara: I was attending church at Rosemeadow and we started a campus of something called Vocational Bible College. And when I heard that our church was doing this, I was really keen, I wanted to do it at least part-time. At that point, I was also studying at uni doing early childhood and primary school teaching. So I was like, “Oh, yeah, I want to do this part-time.” I think I really wanted to learn more about God.
I really enjoyed the study and being able to do more ministry as well. And then my senior minister and my assistant minister, both of them actually, started encouraging me saying, “Actually we think you should do MTS. You seem like a good fit and you seem like you enjoy ministry.” So I stopped doing uni and then decided to do MTS for two years.
Amanda: I worked for a few years after finishing school and just studied on and off, but always was involved growing up in ministry, in church. I always thought, “Oh, it’d be really cool to do ministry.” I was kind of tossing up if I wanted to do like lay ministry or full-time ministry. And because I was doing lay ministry, I was like, “It would be cool to do full-time ministry for two years.”
I also studied at Youthworks during my apprenticeship, learning about God, but then also learning how to do the practical side of it.
What sorts of ministries were you involved in at church during your apprenticeship?
Tara: At the start of my MTS apprenticeship, I had two big things that I was doing and then a bunch of little things. My two big things were, one, I was running our playtime group. And the other thing I was doing was working on what we were calling membership – that’s how to help people that have just turned up to church to incorporate into church easily. So those were my two big things. And then I was doing youth group and SRE on the side of that.
Amanda: I was mostly involved in kids and youth. So I did youth group, Saturday morning, we had a youth Bible study on Sunday morning. We had an Arvo Club, which was like a Friday afternoon kids club for Year Five and Six, which I was really involved in being the female head leader. I also did one-to-ones reading the Bible with a lot of the youth girls. And then I also dabbled in some of the old ladies’ ministry.
Why do you think kids and youth ministry is important?
Tara: All kids, even small kids can come to a real and genuine faith in Jesus. And I think that’s why kids’ ministry is so important. I guess sometimes it’s easy to think that because kids are young and they can’t express their faith maybe as eloquently as we can as adults, that it’s not genuine faith. But I think I’m definitely persuaded that kids can have a genuine faith and that’s why I think kids’ ministry is important.
Amanda: I’m from a Christian family, but the kids’ leaders at church were such an influence on my life as I was becoming a Christian, probably even more so than my parents, I think. I think as kids ministers, kids are more open with us, I think more than even their parents sometimes. In their faith, and particularly in youth, it’s just so important that they have people like ministers at church to talk to.
They’re at such an age where they’re becoming their own person and teaching them what it means to be a Christian and about the Bible is so important in that age as they develop and grow.
Can you tell us a great story from your experience of kids and youth ministry?
Tara: So I was doing a K-2 SRE class. I probably only had 15 kids, so it was a pretty small class. We were using a gospel outline booklet that we did with all different colours and each colour would remind you of a different part of the gospel.
I had one girl in particular that I could just see her really thinking about it and trying to understand. The questions that she asked after that made me realise, “Oh, actually I think that lesson really helped her understand what we’re about.” I don’t know if she came to a genuine faith, but I could really see her thinking through things. And I think that was really encouraging and cool to see.
Amanda: I had some kids who started to come to Arvo Club in Year Six, they were just so loud and rowdy and rolling around on the ground and… Oh, they just did not want to be there! But now they’re in Year Eight and starting to lead on the Sunday kids’ ministry. It’s really encouraging to see the way that they’ve grown in that. I really like that about walking alongside them and getting to see the way that their attitude and their faith develops.
Another time a little girl in Year Five asked, “Did God feel the pain of Jesus on the cross?” I was just like, “Whoa!” I love being their big sister in Christ.
How did your trainer support you through learning how to do kids and youth ministry?
Tara: Brett was always really good at encouraging me to talk things out and just being a good listener. He gave me the space to share how I was feeling about different ministry aspects, to process and move through those. I think that was really helpful and something he did really well. I’m thankful that I got the opportunity to do youth ministry alongside my trainer as well. It was a great way to actually have modelled to me the importance of youth ministry and also think through the reasons why we do youth ministry the way we do.
Any advice for other apprentices doing kids and youth ministry?
Amanda: Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the kids necessarily change. God is still growing them. It’s up to God ultimately what happens to them. We’re just there, maybe for that two years or however long your apprenticeship is. So always be encouraged that God’s still working, no matter how weak you feel like you are or not as good as teaching you are. I know whenever I do talks and stuff, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, that was so lame. They probably got nothing out of that.” But God’s still in their hearts. They’re always going to listen to you in some way.