Our 9:38 Ministry Training Apprenticeship
Every generation needs church leaders who will guard God's gospel, proclaiming His precious, saving truth. That's why the apostle Paul told Timothy to start training people, and that's why 2,000 years on, apprenticeships are urgently needed. We aim to equip leaders to shepherd Christ's sheep with Christ's voice, so the major emphasis of our scheme is on rightly handling and teaching the Bible (see 2 Timothy 2:15, 4:1-4).
The scheme is full time for 1-2 years, beginning in late August. It is divided into three parts: real life ministry experience, rigorous theological training and a range of practical tasks around the church. Please explore our pages to find out more.
Our in-house training mostly uses workshop/seminar-style debates, as we want Associates to learn to think independently, biblically, and clearly. Find out more about our training ethos. Each Associate is also given a ministry area, which varies in scale and responsibility, depending on previous experience. See examples of ministry patches, or hear what a day is really like from our Associate blog.
The distinctive focus
The central distinctive of the Associate Scheme is our focus on the Bible. That may not sound like a distinctive, as surely every evangelical church is Bible-based in their training? But our training is not just based on the Bible, but focused on it – particularly on understanding it rightly, and learning to read God’s word for ourselves.
Our focus on the Bible can be seen by what we leave out. We don’t teach Greek or Hebrew, we don’t teach church history, we only teach a small amount of theology (in the systematic sense), we don’t spend much time on different pastoral issues or ministry scenarios and how to address them, we only give a small amount of time to contemporary hot topics on the church scene. Why? Because we believe there is nothing more important than hearing God speak. Indeed, without hearing God clearly, all the other tasks of ministry are based on a shaky foundation.
Our Bible focus can also be seen by the time we devote to learning to read and rightly handle God’s word. Associates spend over 20 hours a week studying the Bible themselves in depth. After this personal study, their conclusions are then tested, debated and refined in group workshops, reading through individual Bible books together. For many, this is a highlight, and we certainly believe that it is key to the long-term health of the church. If you want to hear more of how we train and why, please explore our pages to the right.
In all this, our aim is to equip Associates for a lifetime of feeding themselves, and their congregations, with the sweet truth of God. We believe further ministry experience will quickly help them pick up pastoral wisdom; Bible college can fill in the languages, church history and doctrine. But the priority skill is learning to read the Bible for themselves, to think and speak clearly and biblically. Our hope is that Associates won’t just learn 'the St Helen’s line' on a particular topic, but will mine Scripture to find answers from God, growing their own convictions; we pray they won’t just learn answers to the issues of today, but learn how to think critically and biblically, so they can answer the issues tomorrow will bring; and so we aim to give them not just content from the Bible, but the skills and attitudes to keep growing and being reformed by God long after they’ve left us.
All that means we don’t offer the breadth of training that some apprenticeships do. After a year or two with us you won’t have all the answers as to what the Bible says on various topics, or how to approach different issues in ministry. But it is our aim, hope, and prayer that you will know how to go about finding those answers in the Bible, and in five, ten years, be reading it, applying it, and communicating it with increasing depth, clarity and conviction.
The typical associate?
Varies hugely! All sorts of people make good bible teachers, and sections of our training are tailored to different gifts. We need men and women who are passionate for the Lord Jesus, committed to His people, and love His word. The scheme is flexible so we can take a wide range of age, stage and training experience. Associates have included new graduates and older workers, ex-apprentices and Relay workers, and church ministers before or after Bible college.
Why should I consider the St Helen's Associate Scheme?
Anyone who wants practical skills in understanding the Bible for themselves and teaching it with clarity in a local church context should consider joining us. Church-based apprenticeships are generally all great for testing the water to see if you have gifts for paid gospel ministry, but training does vary widely in format and focus, so it is worth asking prayerfully and carefully what would best equip you for future service. Find out more about our distinctive strengths and weaknesses.
Over ten years of training gospel workers, the Associate Scheme has developed a unique environment, in which many thrive. We aim to be flexible enough to stretch individuals in their particular gifts or difficulties, but with core shared values of critical thinking and rigorous, personal bible-reading. Not just learning theological content from us, but learning how to hear God first-hand; not just being taught our principles of ministry, but thinking through personal convictions on how God works. Through this we aim to equip, not for a year of ministry, but a lifetime. Our aim is for Associates to grow biblical convictions and Bible-handling skills that go on bearing fruit long after leaving St Helen's. God has blessed the St Helen's church family with many resources, and we hope and pray that the Associate Scheme puts this privilege to good use in serving the wider church.
The application process
Completing an application form is the first step, after which we may call you for interview. Download a form to edit (in Word) or download a pdf. Please type them if possible and email (with an attached photo) to email@example.com or send to Hannah Balch at St Helen's Church Office, Great St Helen's, London EC3A 6AT.
Interviews for September 2016 are under way and we do have a few places remaining.