Huntington, Ind.—Huntington University senior Mathew Gerlach is to experiencing life with a church and figuring out where God wants him to be while interning in Tennessee.
Gerlach, a recreation management and sports ministry major from Shippensburg, Pa., is working this semester with First Baptist Church of Maryville in Tennessee. On Sundays, First Baptist Church has approximately 700 people in attendance.
“Right now, I am in a church during PRIME to see if I feel that God has led me here,” said Gerlach.
PRIME stands for Practical Research and Immersion through Ministry Effectiveness. Through the program, students are immersed into field ministry settings for seven months from May to December.
Gerlach has been prepared for PRIME through coursework that has taught him how to disciple, how to evangelize, how to lead ministry teams and how to handle the relationships within all these different groups.
“I am able to see what church life is all about,” said Gerlach. “I also have had to adjust to living all by myself in a new city without knowing anyone which will help me prepare to move wherever God calls me to minister.”
“We find it very important for the students to have a full-time ministry internship experience where they can learn how to put into practice the things they have learned in the classroom,” said Tom Bergler, assistant professor of ministry and missions. “It’s really important for them not to just read about it or talk about it, but to actually learn those skills on the job.”
At the church, Gerlach is in charge of helping to maintain a recreational facility, directing Upward Basketball, teaching several classes, running a T-Ball camp, and helping to plan two mission trips, one to Alaska and one to Montana.
“The classes that I took in both educational ministries and recreation management have helped me to become quickly acclimated to being in a church and has shown me how to successfully run a program for people of all ages and backgrounds,” said Gerlach.
When Gerlach returns from PRIME, he will graduate in May – ready to go wherever God is calling him to go.
“From the time the students come back from PRIME, we want to see that they are no longer thinking of themselves as primarily students, but thinking of themselves first as ministry people,” said Luke Fetters, associate professor of ministry and missions.
“I’ve seen things, learned things and feel that I have a clearer calling on my life after this PRIME experience,” said Gerlach.