Zoe is a postgraduate student at St Mellitus College. Below, she answers a few questions.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m Zoe, I’m 23, I live in Morden with my husband Levi, and I work as a youth minister at Christ Church W4 in Chiswick.
My route into youth ministry began when I was 16, when I was gripped by the call of following Jesus and wanted my peers to know fullness of life was found only in Jesus. This passion meant I got really involved in the Christian Union in my Sixth Form, running Youth Alpha and Prayer Spaces, which I really loved. It was in my gap year that I considered a more vocational degree, which was how I first heard about St Mellitus College. I decided to do the Theology and Youth Ministry BA, which I completed alongside a 3-year youth ministry placement.
I really enjoyed this combination of studying alongside practical youth ministry, whilst it has its pressure points, doing both together helped me to see the bigger picture! When I found my new role as part time youth minister at Christ Church W4, one of the options open to me was completing an MA alongside my work. I really liked the sound of this idea and immediately thought of St Mellitus College and the programmes they offered.
Why the MA in Christian Leadership?
The Christian Leadership MA seemed to be the best fit for me, as I could see it would enrich my work and theology of youth ministry. One of the things I often reflect on about being a youth leader is that it’s such a privilege to seek God with young people. However, I wanted to think deeper about the role of a youth leader, as you may notice that youth leaders tend to have quite a high attrition rate. I thought having this extra space for more academic study, with my lens as a youth leader, would be really enriching.
Also, from my previous experience at St Mellitus I knew the quality and authenticity of the teaching would be second to none, and that St. Mellitus’ twin values of worship and theology would keep the MA from purely being an intellectual exercise – I knew that doing it would form the whole of me, not just leadership.
How is the programme shaping your leadership?
The programme has helped me to engage with my default leadership style. It has challenged me to pursue the relational approach of collaborative leadership, over and above controlling or accommodating models, that in reflection I have relied on in the past. The assignments have helped me to consider my leadership and incorporate the theological principles I am learning into my context of youth ministry. I am more engaged with: ‘power’ in my context, the tension between control and collaboration, the place of conflict, and appropriate vulnerability in leadership. All these things, and more, have arisen on the course and have helped me reflect on my current leadership and pray for God’s help as I follow Christ and seek to lead others.
I love the way the course enables people from varied contexts of leadership to come to together, to learn from each other and be sent out into our respective fields better equipped in our leadership to empower others in their own vocations and leadership.