Steve Mason tells us about moving into full time ministry and studying on the GDip with Union.
How did you come to feel called to the ministry?
I first went to a church when I was 17 and the church I was involved in was preaching the health, wealth and prosperity gospel. As I began to read the bible for myself, what I read didn’t marry up with what I was being taught from the pulpit. Because of this I was so confused; not knowing what to do I left the church and went back to my old life of drugs and alcohol. I was very lost and didn’t know what to believe. Praise God He didn’t leave me there and eventually I got invited to another church. This was an evangelical church and I was introduced to writers like John Owen, John Piper, A.W Pink and many more. My understanding of Jesus Christ and the bible and suffering all started to fall in line and make sense, and the desire to tell others about this God-man Jesus didn’t stop growing - I just wanted to share it and help others to know the truth about Jesus. Over time I got married and had children and got settled at Worthing Tabernacle, some 10 years ago now. As my desire to serve and love the church grew, I was given more opportunities to serve in different ways. I became a home group leader, then an elder, and then an opportunity to study with Union came up, so I applied and was accepted, praise God!
How did you become involved in the Union Graduate Diploma course?
As I mentioned above, my desire to serve had grown. I was an elder when the church started hosting a GDip Learning Community. At that time I was working in a secular job full-time, but the church was giving the opportunity to be fully funded through the programme, so I was put forward as a candidate. To be able to train and study at the same time was priceless. I was learning whilst being able to put the knowledge that I was gaining into practise immediately within the church.
Were there any modules that especially resonated with you?
I really enjoyed listening to Bob Letham’s Systematic Theology module, together with Ray Ortlund’s teaching on Pastoral Training. Although these two were by far the most influential to me, all of the other subjects were very good too!
How has training with Union helped you overcome any difficulties in entering full time ministry?
The transition from trainee to full time ministry was a difficult one. I took on the role of Assistant Pastor in September and the hardest part was going from preparing one sermon maybe once every 2-3 months to 1 nearly every week! It was a huge jump but the study beforehand really helped to be disciplined and focused.
Before I started Union I had had no academic input since leaving school with only 2 GCSE’s in Art and DT. I did try going to college but pulled out of that and I didn’t try to go to University either, so felt that my options for academic training were limited. The transition into ‘learning’ and essay writing etc. was hard, but having so much to read and think about and study really prepared me mentally for full time ministry.
What would you suggest to someone who is considering theological training?
Be prepared to spend more time than you think you will need and be disciplined and self-motivated to study. Remember you can’t know everything straight away and don’t try to, otherwise you’ll get too bogged down. One of my major regrets was not talking to my lecturers more; they are there to help so use them as much as you can. Finally, enjoy it because the time will go fast.