In the Arizona Presbytery (PCA) – primarily at Rincon Mountain Presbyterian Church in Tucson.
My primary responsibilities were preaching and teaching at churches in the area and helping with the youth at Rincon Mountain.
The primary ways an education from WSC has prepared me for the internship this summer is first, in sermon preparation. The education has helped me understand the scriptures as ultimately pointing to the work of God in Christ, saving His people at the various points of Redemptive History. This has helped me think deeply about what it means to “preach the text” which ultimately means the text cannot stand on its own as an isolated story, but as a scene in the greater drama of the Lord’s redemption.
Second, the education has helped me understand the role of the church in the Great Commission of Christ, and to see my own work in preaching as part of exercising the keys to the kingdom. Understanding the power of the means of grace and taking the gospel they proclaim seriously has empowered me for taking part in this great service; it has helped me to proclaim the gospel with gusto, because I know it’s not really about how much gusto I have!
As my time this summer has come to an end, and I’ve preached far more this summer than summers before, I have both experienced the sense that I am called to this ministry and that I am completely incapable of it apart from grace. As I’ve faced my own weakness in preaching I’ve come to deeply cherish Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4; knowing that we have “this ministry by the mercy of God…” is what has caused me to “…not lose heart” (4:1). I have experienced both the satisfaction of being gifted for this calling and the joyful peace of becoming more and more aware that I am a “jar of clay” (4:7).
Strangely, I’ve found verse 11 to be of supreme comfort; “For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” If this is truly the case in ministry, then what a comfort it is that in my weakness, when I so feel that “…death is at work in us…” leads to me the grace of God, and so through it, life comes to those we minister to (4:12).
First, intern at churches that are not close to the seminary; this is a great service to these churches because they don’t get interns near as often. Also, while churches near the seminary often share in the seminary ethos, those separated by distance often display more of the particular ethos of the presbytery or denomination. The second thing I would advise is seek to discern where you would like to end up long term and then go head on into serving in that presbytery including interning there over multiple summers. This will help you first; build discipleship relationships with elders who can shepherd you. Second, this makes you a better candidate for a call in that presbytery; this is much more to your advantage than interning only around the seminary where there are a surplus of ordained men and ordination candidates. Some may say this is “putting all of your eggs in one basket” or “not having an open hand.” Far from it! Faithful service over multiple summers long after the nostalgia has worn off prepares you for the grind of long-term ministry and provides elders who can affirm to other enquiring churches of your continued faithful service.