Thoroughly prepared: Lydia Soo’s story

Serving in ministry was always a given for Lydia Soo – she just never thought it would be her career. But God has opened doors for her through a long season of volunteer ministry, and an MTS apprenticeship, and she is now a Children’s Minister. 

As Lydia grew up, she attended and served in her church at St James Croydon, where she especially loved serving in kids ministry. From when she was just 16, Lydia threw herself wholeheartedly into helping the youngest members of God’s family get to know him better.

Lydia also went to church alongside many people who were serving as MTS apprentices. Over time she got to understand what was involved in an apprenticeship.                

For many years, people kept suggesting a ministry apprenticeship to Lydia herself… but her answer was always no. At that time, she couldn’t see herself doing ministry in a full-time capacity. 

In 2022, Lydia had graduated with a Medical Science degree and was working in hospitality – but neither of these careers were what she wanted to pursue in the long term. 

“People were still saying to me, ‘hey MTS is still there and there’s lots of apprentices at the moment that you can talk to and ask them what their experience is like’,” she remembers. 

After a number of conversations with Myles Elton, an assistant minister at St James, Lydia was finally convinced to give an MTS apprenticeship a go. 

“He was the one who really pushed me in 2022 to consider ministry. He said ‘the thing that you’ve enjoyed doing this whole time is actually being in kids ministry so maybe this is the time to actually do the apprenticeship and figure out whether this has long term possibilities’. I realised he was right,” Lydia shares.

Lydia’s apprenticeship

In 2023, Lydia started her apprenticeship with Myles as her supervisor and trainer. As Lydia had previously been volunteering in the kids ministry, her new role as an apprentice saw her taking on a lot of the same work but with more responsibility. This looked like coordinating the Friday kids club, teaching SRE classes and leading at some of the Sunday kids ministries. Outside of these things, she also ran a Bible study as well as taking on some pastoral duties and meeting up with people one-to-one. 

Lydia also commenced an Advanced Diploma of Ministry at Youthworks College, underpinning her practical learning with theological study.

Undertaking her apprenticeship confirmed for Lydia that she did in fact want to work in ministry in the long-term.

“I really do think 2023 was just a massive year of personal and spiritual growth for me which was greater than anything I had expected, and which was only one of the ways that MTS was such a rewarding experience,” Lydia reflects.

An opportunity arises

When Lydia was doing her apprenticeship, St James didn’t have a kids minister but was actively looking to hire someone for the role. At the end of 2023, Lydia was strongly encouraged by Myles and senior minister Alan to apply for the position. 

Lydia did have some doubts about this next step. “I knew I really wanted to do kids ministry long term, but I was questioning if I wanted to do this at St James or should I just finish my apprenticeship and then go to a different church?”

But while she had only completed one year of her apprenticeship, her prior experience in ministry and evident aptitude meant that the ministry staff of St James had faith in her abilities. They, along with other members of the church who had known Lydia for a long time, urged her to give it a go.

“They really backed me and wanted me to give it a shot and apply for it,” Lydia shares. But, she notes, “It wasn’t a given that if I applied, I’d get the job.” She had to formally apply and was offered an interview.

Lydia remembers feeling at peace about the outcome, whatever it would be. 

“It was really just a win-win, whatever the outcome was going to be, because I was thinking if I don’t get the job, that means someone else will get the job. And that’s a win because we really want a kids minister,” she reflects. 

Transition to full-time ministry 

When Lydia was offered the job she says it was a “total surprise”. She took a few days to think about the offer and the opportunity that was before her. She had intended to do her apprenticeship for two years, and still had theological study to complete… but there was a need, and an opportunity to meet that need and serve God doing something she loved.

“I thought about it and decided it was definitely something that I wanted to take up and I didn’t want to let the opportunity pass by. It was a big year-I started MTS and was not thinking at all that by the end of the year that I would get a job in ministry!” she reflects.

While her journey from volunteer to permanent minister was quick, Lydia acknowledges the powerful significance of her MTS apprenticeship. “I’m really thankful for that wisdom in terms of doing MTS first and just having been able to experience and to learn as an apprentice before I was put into a permanent position.”

With the change in title, also came a change in responsibilities for Lydia. She has taken on more responsibility for the kids ministries, and now oversees the planning and strategy as well as being responsible for the other leaders. She’s also continuing her Advanced Diploma of Ministry at Youthworks College alongside her work, to further equip her for ministry.

Since beginning her work in ministry Lydia has sometimes grappled with having the right perspective of how her individual work fits into the greater purpose of ministry, and what it looks like to depend ultimately on God’s strength, not her own capacity or abilities. “I have responsibilities and I have things that I need to do but ultimately it is all God’s work and he is actually the one who enables me to do it in the first place”, she shares.

Encouraging others to do MTS

Lydia truly believes that ministry is for everyone in some shape or form, that there is a way for everyone to serve, even though it won’t be vocational ministry for everyone. However, for those wanting to take that step further in exploring ministry, Lydia says that an MTS apprenticeship is the best way to do that. 

“I think it is such a great opportunity to be given new opportunities and training and experience that you wouldn’t get otherwise. It is just a different level of responsibility that you’re given. You get pushed to try new things and learn a lot about yourself as you do, and you’re so well supported by your supervisor and the other people at your church as well,” she explains. 

For Lydia, doing an MTS apprenticeship set her up really well to undertake her new role as kids minister. It gave her the clarity to see that she did want to commit to ministry full time and it gave her ministers the confidence to see that she would be the right person to take on the role.