For those that may not know what I did on my internship, this first part is a compilation of notes from the presentation I did about my internship for my home church after I returned.
I completed my ministry internship at the Fairfield Church of Christ in Fairfield, Ohio, in the Cincinnati area. My internship was focused on music ministry, since that is the focus of my college degree and a requirement for the completion of my degree. My primary duties consisting of planning and organizing worship, working with the adult praise choir (as a member and as a director), and leading worship team practices. I was especially involved in planning of the Palm Sunday and Easter services. I was considered a part of the church staff while I was there and attended weekly staff meetings.
In addition to my music ministry duties, I was very involved in the youth ministry, mostly because the youth minster is my cousin, Aaron Hibbard. Aaron gave me the opportunity to teach for one of the high school small groups for Sunday night youth group, because of requirements I had for an online class I was taking. I also enjoyed being involved in some youth group activities while I was there, such as a high school lock-in and CIY Believe.
What was the best part of your internship experience? What was the worst part?
For me, the best part of my internship was the people of the Fairfield Church of Christ. All the people that I became close to, my mentor, the rest of the staff, my host family, the worship team, the choir, the kids of the youth group, the college age group (those around my age), and those that befriended me in other ways, all impacted my life in those few months I was in Fairfield. I enjoyed life and community in this church in a way that I had not experienced before, and I am so grateful for that experience.
What are the three most valuable lessons you learned during your internship that you will use in your future ministry?
I learned many valuable lessons while I was on internship. The most significant was the importance and necessity of flexibility in ministry. Although it was something that I already knew I struggled with, I now see that in order to best serve others (one of primary goals of any ministry), we need to be willing to adapt to whatever situations may come our way. The times that I able to adapt and finish what needed to be done were some of the more fulfilling moments I had, and the most helpful to the whole of the music ministry. I hope to be able to learn more flexibility in my personal life, so that I can better serve others and it will natural overflow into my future ministry endeavors.
The second lesson that I learned was about the ministry of the church as a whole. Early on, I observed that the staff is involved in each other’s ministries. They all seemed to understand the roles their ministries played and how their ministries related to each other. They were sensitive to the needs of each other’s ministries. These are things that I was aware of and had been told before, but I had never had the opportunity to seriously observe it. Because of this, I want to remember the part that music ministry plays in the bigger picture of the ministry of church as a whole. We are not just here to sing, play, make everything sound good, and keep the glory for ourselves. We are a piece of the puzzle that when put together points back to the reality of a Savior that is risen and redeems us from our sins. No music minister should ever lose sight of that, and I hope I never do.
The third lesson I learned on my internship is the importance of creativity in ministry. During my internship, I was enrolled in the online class “Creative Bible Teaching,” and I learned so much about the importance of creativity in the classroom, but I think much of this concept applies to ministry.
What impact has this internship had on your spiritual life?
This internship had changed my life in ways both big and small. I had to learn how to trust in the Lord more than had before, because in the moments that my mentor wasn’t able to help, I struggled with feeling inadequate for fulfill my duties. Through it all, I realized that Christ was able to help me in my inadequacies, and He also helped me to discover talents that I did not know I had that I have been able to use for ministry purposes. Trust in the Lord is an important lesson for anyone to learn, regardless of their situation in life.
[If you want to read more about my experience during His Final Week, click here]
To give you a sense of the good, the bad, and the funny, this a selection and revision of a list I made for fun called “Things I Did Not Expect To Learn On My Internship” (This is 30 of the 48 I had originally)
1. Waiting until 3 days before you move to an area that you are not familiar is not the smartest idea. I don’t recommend it.
2. Interning at your mom’s home church means that you have people that remember you as a child, but you don’t remember them.
3. You know you found your long lost twin when as adults you both love Disney Princesses and have Rapunzel costumes.
4. When teaching in youth group small groups, you should probably just assume that you won’t make it through every discussion question. It’s easier to simply accept the fact that random, off topic discussion will occur every time
5. Impending ministry assignments sound scarier when your mentor makes a sinister laugh before he tells you what you’re doing
6. Don’t lock a filing cabinet if you lose your key. This lesson was provided courtesy of Mike’s forgetfulness. On the bright side, he showed me how to use a crowbar to open a locked filing cabinet! haha
7. The winter I was in Fairfield, we became God’s frozen people (Quote from Dave Hargrave, one of the other ministers on staff at FCC)
8. It is possible to someone to “smell like wisdom”
9. Reuniting with your babysitter from your childhood means that embarrassing stories could be revisited. Which ones where revisited, I shall not say
10. My hands are somewhat dyslexic when conducting. My hands had a hard time making two different motions at the same time. Somehow, I still managed to conduct the choir for one song on Easter.
11. You know you have spent too much time with your mentor when you almost order the same food at a restaurant. It was pretty scary.
12. The plural form of Jesus is Jesi
14. You can use shower curtains as light gels for florescent lights (My mind was blown)
15. If you make yourself cry for theatrical purposes, you shouldn't cry so hard that you start hyperventilating, which I came close to doing. Don’t forget to breathe!
16. You realize that you are in a crazy awesome biblical production when any of the following happens behind the scenes: when Jesus is making references to classic TV shows that you like, when you and the apostle Peter start singing “Lean On Me” to pass the time, when your primary casts pray together before every day of performances, when you can actually have food back stage, or when you are attempting to plan the Sunday worship services between shows with the apostle John. It was a little crazy, but a whole lot of fun!
17. Applebee’s is basically the only restaurant in Fairfield that is open late. Thank goodness for half-price apps!
18. Jamming to Rich Mullins and Newsboys in the car is a blast! You should try it sometime if you haven't
19. Having a bathroom and a shower to yourself is a luxury that should never be taken for granted
20. When stamping hundreds of handkerchiefs, don’t press too hard on the stamp, or a blister could result.
22. You know that people love you when you tell them your favorite flavor of ice cream (Peanut Butter and Chip from UDF) and they drop everything to go get it for you. This happened more than once!
23. I'm just as fun and crazy as the kids in the youth group. I guess that's why we get along so well.
24. Having your cousin on the same church staff is awesome. It was such a blessing to have Aaron in the office across from me.
25. On the other hand, you realize how weird you are when the first guy to ride alone with you in your car is your cousin…
27. Trial by fire is a good learning experience, even though it may be uncomfortable. I learned more through some of the unplanned parts of my internship then I did from planned parts.
28. Never take the staff of your church for granted. They are servants to the Lord and to you, and they deserve a ton more recognition than they get.
29. Community in Christ, especially in the context of a church body, should never be taken for granted. I was so warmed welcomed into the church and felt very much at home with them. If you find yourself in a church like that, consider it a blessing.
30. Do your best to be prepared for any situation that comes your way. That is when you are open for the Lord to use you, no matter where you are in your life.
Prior to this internship, I had not had the chance to really experience the finer details of music ministry. Most of my experience up to that point had been singing on worship team and some worship planning. But after spending 3 ½ months going into the church office 4 to 5 days a week and often not returning home on those days until late at night, I became more assured of a fact I already knew: pastors, ministers, and those who are on staff at a church do so much more than their congregation will ever see. They don’t just work on Sunday mornings, and they often don’t work a 9 to 5 kind of job. Being in ministry is a devotion, a calling, and a lifestyle that demands more than many people outside of ministry can really understand. Even their volunteers only get a taste of the demands and devotion required to faithfully fulfill this calling. Being a pastor’s kid, I knew this truth, but I finally had the chance to experience it while I was in Fairfield, and that is something I could never experience in the classroom.
This is just a glimpse of all the things I learned in my time at the Fairfield Church of Christ. I am still grateful for all the things I learned and all the experiences I had in Fairfield. It was by far the best experience of my education. As I reflect on what I learned, my heart overflows with gratitude toward all the people that made my experience possible. I am still ever so thankful for the Fairfield Church of Christ, my mentor Mike, my cousin Aaron, the other staff members at FCC, the members of the worship team and praise choir, the leadership team for His Final Week, my host family, and the countless other people that befriended me, made me feel at home, and gave me opportunities to serve. I still miss them and thank the Lord from them often.
I am also reminded about what ministry is really all about. It’s not just about serving with our talents when were interested. It’s about contributing to the needs of the church so the body of Christ may be strengthened. Every person is a piece of the puzzle of that ministry, and each ministry is a piece of the puzzle of the church as a whole. I hope some of these memoirs from my internship have helped you see this truth and that you will find ways to strengthen the body of Christ by contributing to the needs of ministries in your own church. I also hope this will help you respect the work of whoever ministers to your own church, because their work extends far beyond Sunday mornings.