As final year students start to think about what to do next, and as not a few consider church apprenticeships and other year-long ministry schemes, I want to share some thoughts on why Relay rocks.
Specifically, finalists who want to test a calling into 'full time paid Christian ministry' (for lack of a better denominator) often think they should be a church worker / apprentice for a while. That may be so. But to help, if that's you, here are some questions I suggest asking, because I really want you to have the most effective year possible:
- How will you 'get a feel' for ministry in this year, more than you would do if you got a job and got stuck in in your church, serving more as a 'normal' member than as a student? Perhaps you should test your calling by serving as a normal member of the church (go read Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands). Perhaps you'll spend all your time doing extra activities (make sure that in this year, you're really trained, discipled, and equipped - see below) or maybe you'll just do what you should have done anyway as a full church member.
- Will you be discipled by someone committed to supervising you, in work skills, in applying your theology to your life and ministry, and overall in growing in grace? Will someone be investing in you, praying for you, and meeting up with you regularly to encourage and challenge you in growing as a Christian, as well as learning skills?
- Will you have a structured, intentional programme of theological study in which you get feedback and interaction with others? It's important to go deeper into God's word, not to run on what you already know and just learning skills to go with it. What is in place to make you study and help you learn and apply - or will you be able to let it slip when other 'more urgent' things crowd in?
- Will you be learning and growing and being trained in the main things of grace and gospel, or Things That We Think Are Cool Right Now (TM)?
- Will your year be equally useful for life no matter what you choose to do after, or merely significant for that year and deciding what to do after?
- Will you be trained on the ground, putting into practice what you're learning, ministering the gospel to others as you grow in it, being pushed and challenged in ministry so you have to grow more?
- Will you be pushed to think outside your cultural comfort zone, what church style you're used to, and encouraged to believe things because of the convictions you own, or just the company you keep? Will you have opportunity to think more about your part in God's mission for the world, the role of the workplace, and world mission, or will you be let alone to settle in the environment where you are?
And really, amongst many other things, the answers to those questions are some of the reasons why I think Relay rocks.
(There's also the experiential - I loved Relay Homestart, and I love my Relay Worker, meeting with her to reflect on God's grace outworked in our lives and the CUs and students we serve, digging into God's Word together, being gripped by it and encouraging each other in applying it,...)
But if you're determined to miss out on Relay, at least make sure that you've got good answers to the questions above! It'd be rather sad otherwise.