When Tara Prince lists out what is important to her in life, she mentions three things: her relationship with God, her husband and kids, and good health. She mentions good health specifically, as she has been plagued with chronic illness for the last six years which has meant seeking good health has served as a driving force and helped her to love those around her better.
Due to the illness, she faced, Tara struggled with being able to work and had been looking for work that she could do physically that would also involve the skills she already had as a social worker; listening, talking and being relational.
“I had a really rough time in this period of bad health, and you never know how much time in your life you have left and how much time you’re well enough to do things. I really wanted to use whatever time I had left to be able to grow God’s kingdom and be a part of it,” Tara shares.
“I went to MTS Recruit and found out more from Russell Smidt, who was my minister and later would become my trainer.”
Tara decided that she would do an MTW MTS METRO Apprenticeship at her church, New Life Presbyterian Church in Canberra, with her minister Russell Smidt as her trainer.
- The MTW Apprenticeship is designed to prepare women for all types of ministry. With teaching and mentoring components, and the chance to discuss topics with other women, MTW is a tailored course that equips women to serve Christ in every sphere of life.
- METRO is a committee of the Presbyterian Church in NSW (PCNSW) that sponsors suitable people into ministry training apprenticeships and partners with MTS.
“I was drawn to doing it at my church, not only due to my good working relationship with Russell, but also because I felt like my strengths were encouraging Christians in growing their relationship with the Lord and encouraging them that way. I’m not a born evangelist or speaker but I’ve got one to one relationship skills and I just really wanted to nurture that in women at our church to serve through discipling other women so that we might have a culture of discipleship.”
Studying the Timothy Partnership Certificate
Tara also decided that she would study the Timothy Partnership Certificate while she undertook her apprenticeship.
“Russell had talked through that I could do it [an apprenticeship] without a study element, but I just really thought any other time where I’ve done study and there’s been an opportunity to implement, is where I’ve done the best type of learning,” she shared. “I’d always wanted to study more about God and the Bible.”
Training for the Timothy Partnership Certificate is offered online. MTS apprentices study the Academic Studies in Theology Certificate (ASTC) – through a collaboration between Presbyterian Youth and Christ College, an affiliated college of the Australian College of Theology. The certificate is a course that enables every Christian everywhere to be better equipped to read and understand the Bible.
Tara’s apprenticeship generally consisted of two days of ministry and one day of study per week. Tara reflects, “I was doing more study than regular full-time apprentices because I was also doing the MTW course, the women’s ministry training that went along with it, and the Timothy Partnership Certificate. MTW was five lectures a semester plus a couple of assignments each semester.” But she loved it!
Tara shared that she really loved studying the Timothy Partnership Certificate, particularly the lectures which were in the format of several lecturers having group discussions. She says these elements really helped her to engage in the content and stay focused during the lecture. “I learned a lot from it. I did an Old Testament subject first, and I remember I would listen, I was trying so hard to get absolutely everything. So, I’d sit there and listen five minutes at a time, and as I couldn’t write very well, I could only write for about half an hour, and then I’d have to stop. I literally took four months to write one essay all about the Babylonian exile and I learned so much about it, but my expectation of what I needed to put into it, the amount of reading and everything was kind of way off. I gradually decreased my expectation of how much work to put in. By the end, I was just going from one assignment to the next (there can be a number of small assignments in each ASTC unit, plus an essay) and wouldn’t start the next one until the first one was done. I learned better how to structure things,” Tara explained.
The value of a ministry apprenticeship
Since finishing her studies and apprenticeship, Tara has been exploring options for ministry work. She believes that studying and doing a ministry apprenticeship is a valuable thing for women to do, as “There’s a great need for women to be growing in their serving ability and being trained in correct theology”.
“Initially when we started women’s ministry, there was a great desire to grow connections between women. We were able to grow the focus of women’s ministry on discipleship and how older women can help younger women deepen their relationship with God.”
“I think ministry apprenticeships really help to equip you in whatever ministry you’re going to do in the future, but it also helps you understand, if it’s in a church, what your ministry team is going through and the challenges that they face and have more sympathy for the things that they’re grappling with every week,” Tara continued.
“I remember hearing at MTS Recruit, ‘Why not? Why not do a ministry apprenticeship?’ You don’t have to try and work out the reasons why you should do it – just do it! I think that was the final thing; I’m just gonna do it. Having my life kind of fall apart a bit, gave me that option to think, ‘What would God like me to be doing and what can I do in the future for Him and His kingdom?’”.
“It’s so valuable to study and to have ministry experience. There are so many good things that come about as a result of growing in loving God more, and loving His people more is a big part of that,” she concluded.