I remember sitting at my desk in my dorm room freshman year at MU reading the book of Ezra. I was moved by the tenth verse of the seventh chapter.
“...Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to do it, and teach his statutes and rules in Israel.”
At that moment, God impressed upon my heart one simple thing: Teach the Bible. I had no idea that that call from God would lead me into a 2 year internship where I became aware of a call to pastoral ministry. I’ve been incredibly blessed by our elders at Karis and wouldn’t trade it for the world. Here are 5 things I’ve learned:
We should value the local Church.
As a new believer, I’d never thought much about the local church. In fact, I was (paradoxically) so involved with a campus ministry that I didn’t attend Sunday gatherings. I spent almost 2 years of my undergraduate life confused about the role of the local church, what it was, what it wasn’t, and what the marks of a healthy church was. The Karis internship helped me to see that the local church is God’s primary means of reaching the nations. I learned that the “Church universal” is important, but that Scripture’s emphasis is on the function, health, fidelity, and diversity of the local church as she pursues the lost.
2. Spiritual Gifts are best discovered in Biblical community.
The call to pastoral ministry would have never been affirmed or refined if it hadn’t been for the Karis internship. Through spending hours with elders and leaders in our church, I was able to hear their thoughts, concerns, and encouragements about what I felt that God had been calling me to. There’s something freeing and beautiful about being around a bunch of folks who love you so much they’re willing to answer you honestly when you ask, “Do you think God is calling me to be a pastor?”
3. The Church is not a building or business, but a people.
One of the beautiful things about Karis is that we have (by God’s grace) a healthy culture. And culture is maintained and created by language. One of the phrases that we don’t use often is, “Going to church”. Why? Because we are taught that the Church is not a building, but a people. We are the church and the church gathers. The distinction makes all the difference.
And by extension, I’ve learned that that means the Church must not become a business. The quickest way to burnout in ministry is to treat people as nothing more than customers (out with the sheep and in with the clients). I praise God for the perspective that the elders have and I have been blessed by the ways I’ve seen us repent and gradually move towards caring for each other holistically.
4. Ministry is hard.
But not just for you- for everyone involved. Yes, even the spouse and kids. Satan wants to use discouragement, doubt, physical suffering and fear to drive us to despair. Ministry isn’t tweeting pithy statements, arguing with people on social media, or even sitting around and geeking out over Biblical Greek and having long Bible studies (as fundamental as Greek and Bible studies are). Ministry is telling people they are in sin. Disagreeing with other people over hard decisions. Seeing other Christians do foolish things after warning them. Ministry is late nights and not hearing, “thank you” as much as you’d like to.
5. Creating a healthy church culture is hard.
When you begin to engage with a church, you are engaging with a culture - a particular way of living out the Gospel. Creating an environment where people are patient, loving, timely, use Biblical language, and speak truth to one another takes a long time. And it’s never something that’s simply taught via Bible study - rather it’s demonstrated within the context of relationships. Creating a healthy church culture is hard because it often times exposes areas where you don’t quite personify the Gospel the way you’d like.
Do you feel called to formal ministry? If so, you should consider doing the Karis Internship. It has been a huge blessing for me and it will sharpen you spiritual gifts! Feel free to speak with me if you would like to learn more, or visit this page to learn more about the Karis Church internship.