Mammoth Lakes, CA at Grace Community Church
I had the opportunity to preach through the letter of Paul to the Colossians in nine Sundays. I also taught two weekly Bible studies (men’s group & the other open to everyone). And provided pastoral care and counseling throughout the week for members and visitors.
Westminster has helped me to grow both spiritually and mentally through its rigorous course of study. Although I have one year left I am already experiencing the benefits of the education I received. My experience has been challenging but it has affirmed and shaped me to become more qualified for the ministry. It has equipped me to faithfully shepherd and serve God’s people by devoting to prayer and to the ministry of the Word. Even if the world has the tendency to either over or under spiritualize things it remains the case that Christianity is a spiritual endeavor. From weekly prayer meetings, lectures, chapel, or traveling on the way to the next class Westminster has patterned prayer into campus life.
So as I continued to walk out my seminary journey I stepped into the same rhythm of prayer, which has poured into my daily walk. Also, it has helped me grow in my commitment to sound doctrine and in the confidence to the power of God’s Word. For it is easy to get hung up on the delivery of a well packaged sermon or a perfectly poetic strung of words to inspire hearts to pursue God; however, the only real meaningful growth comes from the person and work of Jesus Christ that will truly inspire and transform hearts to spiritual maturity. I have witnessed this truth through my professors and peers sharing the richness of the Gospel that captures its endless treasures in devoting to prayer and God’s Word.
Seminary has taught me of God’s unchanging and eternal truths; however, my summer internship has reminded me of the ever changing and time bound age we live in. I am thankful that seminary has laid the foundation of my ministry on God’s Word about His Beloved Son Jesus Christ to help me build on no other foundation. Also, I am thankful for my summer internship to bring awareness that as continue to build on this foundation that I will be interrupted with sin and temptations. As I prepared and delivered weekly sermons, getting to know the congregation, and leading my family I discovered the unchanging Word meet with the changeable: the context and me.
Although I have the confidence in God’s Word, that will not change nor perish, I was faced with a context that constantly changed. Mammoth Lakes is a tourist town and people travel all around the world to visit on vacation. The ratio between the locals and its guest is so great for those who live there are flooded with tourism. The church I had an opportunity to serve experienced weekly visitors and most weeks doubled the amount of members. This not only impacted the weekly attendance but the mindset of the community. The sin of the community was that creation was king. I also faced the challenge of confusing God’s glory with my own. With the opportunity to preach to new faces weekly it can either be an opportunity spread God’s Word by equipping new visitors or take it as an opportunity to equip myself with pride. My internship has helped me balance a healthy ministry and how to protect it from the culture and even myself.
Do not wait until you graduate to start shepherding and serving God’s bride, the Church. The starting point is not after graduation nor is it during seminary. We start shepherding and serving once we follow Jesus as our Lord and Savior. I have found the greatest joy and disappointments in ministry. Looking back there seems to be more disappointments then joy; however, responding in gratitude for what Christ has done on the cross in obedience to the Great Commission has outweighed the cost.
Internship is not about convenience, nor will it ever be convenient, it may not be a pleasure (in fact, it will stretch you) but it will help you in preparing for the ministry. Internship is not only preparing you for the work of ministry but it is real work because you are ministering to real people. You will have the opportunity to preach, engage in the lives of the people, and will help identify your strengths and weaknesses. On top of seminary I had to care for my wife and kids, work the grave shift, handle family loss and suffering, manage financial stress and worry, and maintain spiritual vitality. In the midst of this I participated in internships. What I learned is that it provided a taste of what vocational and lifelong ministry will be like. Internships may affirm your call to ministry and test it as well.