Seeing God Through The Eyes Of A Pastoral Intern
From August 31st, 2015- August 31st, 2016, I served as a pastoral intern at New Covenant Bible Church (NCBC). During this time, I participated in weekly staff meetings, attended a leadership conference, went on a pastoral retreat, shadowed pastors in various settings (both church settings and non-church settings), taught two adult Sunday school classes, preached a sermon at a Sunday night service, assisted in the set-up/ tear down of numerous church events, ministered to members of the congregation, went on multiple hospital visits, and helped around the church as needed. I also regularly received mentoring from each of our pastors throughout the year. Meanwhile, during the entire internship, I led the young adult ministry (The Rock) at NCBC. This role included teaching lessons on a weekly basis (I have taught over 50 lessons since The Rock began in January 2015), facilitating weekly leadership team meetings, organizing events, counseling young adults, and leading small group discussions. As I look back on my experiences, it is clear to me that this internship accomplished what it was intended to accomplish—and much more. In this brief blog post, I will address what made this internship a success and how God has worked in my heart this past year.
One of the primary goals of this internship when David and I initially outlined it was to help me determine whether or not God was calling me to pastoral ministry. I often contemplated full-time ministry before this internship started, but I was hesitant to pursue it, primarily because I was uncertain that I was gifted for it—something I felt was important to know before making such a commitment. This internship helped affirm my calling, as I received both internal and external affirmations of my giftings—particularly in the areas of serving, leading, and teaching (as outlined in Romans 12). It hardly needs to be said that I have plenty of room for growth in each of these areas—growth I eagerly long for—and yet, I have already seen God working in me this past year, and I am confident that He who began a good work in me “will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6, NLT).
Before I discuss what I’ve learned through leading The Rock, I must first acknowledge that much of my learning this past year came from the mentoring I received from the elders at NCBC. David Sunday, Patrick Havens, Dan Huff, Dan Leeper, and Frank Chihowski are a few of the men who committed to investing time and energy into me—and followed through on those commitments. These men were always eager to help me however they could, even if it meant taking time out of their busy schedules. They counseled me frequently through direct conversations—and they were always counseling me through their conduct. There aren’t many men I’d rather imitate than the elders at NCBC as I grow as a man of God—and, if it is God’s will for my life, a pastor, a husband, and a father. I am thankful to have each of these men in my life, and I am excited to continue to grow in my relationship with them, even with my internship having concluded.
As far as my experience leading and teaching at The Rock—I am so grateful for how the Lord has worked through this. My experiences have instilled a deep yearning in my heart to preach God’s Word for the purposes of encouraging others and magnifying our Lord Jesus Christ. Every Friday night, I have a unique opportunity to stand before young adults who are spiritually hungry, and by God’s grace, feed them through the Word and by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is extremely exciting to me and equally humbling. Beyond the teaching aspect, I’ve also been able to taste—albeit on a microcosmic level—some of the other joys and challenges of being a pastor: I’ve been blessed by the relationships and the community that God has brought together at The Rock. I’ve appreciated every opportunity to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. I’ve faced challenges, which have allowed me to seek counsel, depend on God, and exercise biblical decision-making—all of which I am confident God is using for His glory and for my sanctification. Most of all, I’ve delighted in seeing the Holy Spirit work through members of The Rock—people serving one another, loving each other, and encouraging each other. When you get to see the body of Christ working the way God designed it to work, it is spiritually invigorating.
To be sure, my responsibilities and the consequences of my actions leading The Rock are lessor than that of a staff pastor. However, the fact that I am interacting with real people going through real trials is no small matter. I don’t view The Rock as merely a ministerial pilot study or “pastoral training”—far from it. God has each of us exactly where He wants us—not to practice ministry, but to do ministry. God isn’t waiting for us to get somewhere before He begins using us; God uses us and sanctifies us throughout the journey.
Throughout my internship, I have been praying that God would work in my heart and in the hearts of those around me for the glory of Jesus. God has answered this prayer powerfully. Through various trials, unique experiences, and new relationships, God has brought sanctification in my life that I couldn’t have manufactured on my own. Furthermore, I’ve been uplifted time and time again by seeing the Holy Spirit clearly working through other believers—both believers at The Rock and those within NCBC family.
As we are commended in Hebrews 10:24-25: “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works— not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (ESV). When we pray for God to give us strength, encouragement, joy, faith, etc.—does He not give us these things through the body of Christ? It is during the times that I am consistently engaged in godly fellowship that I feel the strongest, the most encouraged, the most joyful, and the most confident in my faith. Praise God for what He is doing through NCBC! I pray we will be a faithful church that continues to edify one another and make disciples until the Day Christ returns.
What’s next for me? Lord willing, I will continue to lead The Rock and stay involved at NCBC, while continuing to pursue a Master of Divinity through Reformed Theological Seminary (a program I began this past summer). My desire is to become a pastor in the years ahead. In the meantime, I am also working for STATS, LLC. If you would, please pray for the following:
• That God would continue to sanctify my heart and prepare me for pastoral ministry.
• That God would provide financially, especially as I go through seminary.
• That God would continue to protect and grow The Rock for the glory of Jesus.