The next big decision: apprentices heading to college – Pip and Sophie Witheridge

Pip and Sophie Witheridge have been apprentices at St Paul’s Carlingford for the past two years, and next year they’re headed to Moore College.

What’s next after an apprenticeship is a question that every apprentice must answer – but there’s no ‘right’ answer! An apprenticeship that doesn’t lead into full-time vocational ministry is no less valuable.

But for some, an apprenticeship provides the opportunity to make this big decision with more maturity, more experience and a better picture of the future.

So how did the Witheridges make the decision to head to Bible college?

“I had a vague idea that college would be a good next step after MTS,” Pip shares, “But I knew that even if I did MTS and then went back to working in marketing, that would still be valuable because I would have a better understanding of how church works, and how I as a worker could support the church and its priorities.”

Sophie agrees: “I had expected to do college, but I wasn’t really sure how the apprenticeship would go. I was happy to get to the end of an apprenticeship and then decide on a different pathway, or that full-time vocational ministry wasn’t for me. I planned to make my decision based on how MTS went.”

“MTS has crystallised things for me,” Pip shares. “It has raised all these theological questions that I don’t have answers to yet, so I want to go to college and learn, to get to know the Bible better so I can teach people properly. I want to know my God better, but I also want to be able to explain to other people who God is.”

Pip benefited throughout his apprenticeship from regular conversations with his trainer Sam, and was also invited to observe how Sam managed his family and personal life alongside a ministry job. This helped address some of the more practical concerns about a life of ministry he and Sophie held.

Sophie similarly credits her apprenticeship with giving her a proper taste of the ministry life. “The MTS experience was really helpful. There were points along the way when college didn’t feel like it would be the right decision, but later in the apprenticeship, when I had gained more confidence and more understanding of what ministry is, I felt like I had an idea of what I was getting into.”

For Sophie, college is an exciting step on the way to serving in ministry to women. “A lot of people from younger generations are questioning the role of gender in churches and judging churches by how they treat and involve women,” she reflects. “I want to stand up for the way that churches value women, and model what that would look like as well.”

As for where exactly their college degrees might take them, Pip and Sophie aren’t quite sure yet. They’re thinking probably somewhere in Sydney or Australia, but are open to responding to gospel needs around the world.

Pip and Sophie have made a big decision to commit to full time study. But they know they’ve made an informed decision and they’re excited about what’s next. “This decision has been a long time coming,” Pip says. “I’ve done a lot of conscious and unconscious thinking about it. We know there are a variety of ways we could use our lives to serve Jesus, but this just seems like a good thing to do because of the need for the gospel to go out.”

Please pray forPip and Sophie, and other apprentices like them, heading to theological college next year, that it might prepare them for whatever God has planned for them.