Tyler Heesh is a recent graduate of Youthworks College. As part of Tyler’s Youthworks-MTS Apprenticeship, he worked at St James’ Anglican Church in Croydon three days a week in youth ministry and evangelism.
Tyler could have chosen another college for his studies, but for him, Youthworks was the right choice. He explains:
“Youthworks College allows you to study full time and still do ministry in a variety of ways. For me, this has looked like teaching youth group and one-to-one Bible reading, as well as big picture focuses like leading teams and helping to make evangelism a priority for our church.
“Youthworks College’s focus on children and young people means you’re consistently challenged to connect the Bible clearly with the lives of young people who, in many ways, are different from you.
“I’ve found there is an amazing amount of freedom at Youthworks College to ask questions about Scripture, theology, ministry, discipleship and pastoral care. I think this is the result of smaller class sizes and the humility of the lecturers who want to see spiritual growth in their students and those their students serve.”
Tyler feels confident that Youthworks is preparing him for effective ministry.
“Youthworks College has empowered me to start with God's word and keep asking ‘Why?’ in thinking about youth ministry. It has taught me the weight the Bible places on speaking the gospel to all people, and the reality that the whole church is involved in discipling the young.”
As Tyler has grown in his understanding of God’s word and his ability to convey the truths of Scripture to the youth he leads, the local church has benefited greatly.
Tyler’s ministry supervisor, the Rev Prashanth (Prash) Colombage spoke of the impact Tyler has had on the congregation they serve.
“Tyler has had a pretty great impact on a lot of teenagers. Tyler has run the middle-high program for the last two years and that’s probably the hardest group. The kids are in a stage of transition in life and that’s where most of our drop-out is as well.
“So, I put Tyler in there knowing it was a tough gig and that group of kids he’s gone through with have had a lower drop-out rate than most groups. That’s partly Tyler and the rest of his leaders who’ve done great follow-up.”
Prash sees how Youthworks College is shaping Tyler’s ministry:
“One of the really big things Youthworks has done is help Tyler understand himself better. Youthworks College has such good pastoral support. Given it’s a smaller cohort of students, the staff are more invested in the students.
“Ed Springer [Head of Youthworks’ Ministry Support team], for example, has been out to see Tyler give a youth talk three or four times at St James’. So Ed knows him and his ministry personally.
“We have a real sense that Tyler is theologically solid. If he gives a vote of confidence to someone in his group or a resource he’s read, we feel confident that it’s coming from an evangelical foundation. Tyler has a strong biblical theology behind him, so when he trains younger leaders he’s going to train them in a helpful way to read the Bible and in a systematic way because he’s been taught how to read it as well.”
And Tyler’s impact will reach well beyond the time he serves at St James’:
“Tyler has broken ground for others. [Others in the church] have been able to see that they can do it. Since Tyler’s begun studying, we’ve got another student who has started this year and another person who’s thinking about starting next year. So, immediately I think Tyler made training for ministry more accessible for people.”