Ministry Inquiry Program Reflection

Taylor Stutzman, 3rd year Culture, Religion & Mission major

My MIP experience began in atypical fashion. Most interns serve during the summer months so as to not interfere with college, whereas my circumstances led me to intern in the winter/spring months at Peace Mennonite Community Church in Aurora, Colorado. I had finished an AAAS degree in Youth Ministry in December from Hesston College and did not know where to go from there. The MIP was a logical next step where I could experience full time ministry in a church setting and decipher what life held for me afterwards. I gained exponentially more than that.

Through working at PMCC, shadowing and being mentored by Pastor Phil Ebersole, my gifts and weaknesses in ministry were brought to light. I have always been a proverbial people person. Relational ministry comes relatively naturally for me. But I now realize that this was largely because in a small college setting, everybody knows everybody and I didn’t have to make a conscious effort to build relationships. Being disconnected from that type of community and social network and thrust into the unfamiliar proved more difficult than anticipated.

For perhaps the first time in my life, I had to make an effort to build relationships.

The hardest part of this for me was leaving my comfort zone and meeting people in theirs. At PMCC, there is a family who moved from Africa not too long ago and they have two quiet boys, Moise (sophomore) and Abel (8th grade). Phil challenged me to build relationships with these boys and instructed me to do the most uncomfortable thing I could think of – go to their house quasi-announced. I thought this might be perceived as rude and did not want to be a nuisance or socially awkward.

But Phil was right, and after that visit we started hanging out more and they let their guard down and accepted me. We had a lot of fun and I really enjoyed my time with them. The only problem was that I had to leave and they have to stay there. This experience has put faces to what I had envisioned youth ministry to be.

All things considered, my MIP experience has been and will prove invaluable. The knowledge of ecclesiology has opened my eyes and I see church differently. Full-time church work isn’t easy, but can be very rewarding. Phil’s guidance and insight has shaped many aspects of my personal/devotional life and ministry in ways I’m sure are not yet fully realized. I am thankful for this and to the people of PMCC who have taught me many things often by simply being Kingdom people doing Kingdom work. Their hospitality is inspiring. However, perhaps the most valuable learning I’ve gained from the MIP is this: don’t eat Chipotle burritos the night before you preach.