Crown Interns Experience Ministry First-Hand at Grace Church

Crown Interns Experience Ministry First-Hand at Grace Church


By Josie Parker

Ministry can be…challenging. Over this past summer, three Crown interns learned how a career in ministry is much more than altar calls and sing-alongs. Sometimes it can get a little complicated–but when the smoke clears, you can find an abundance of joy and reward.

This past summer, Crown student Anja Baumgarn, followed by Melissa Cripps, started internships with Grace Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Working for one of the largest churches in the state, the students participated in Vacation Bible School (VBS), and taught Sunday school. Most importantly, the students explained how they are learning all the hard work that brings all the puzzle pieces of a large church together.

Grace Church is a non-denominational church with two campuses–one located in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and the other in Chaska, Minnesota. The church has over 5,000 members and operates with the mission to “glorify God by making disciples of Jesus across the street and around the world.”

Anja and Melissa first connected with Grace Church through an adjunct professor at Crown College. Both students are ministry majors at Crown. Josh Mulvihill, former adjunct Professor of Christian Ministries and Pastor to Children and Families at Grace, helped the students apply for internships within children’s ministries at the church. Anja started last June and Melissa started in August.

“We don’t usually talk about all the details that come together that make a ministry function,” says Anja. “In a ministry class, it’s hard to really understand that. You learn more about the big ideas. This internship has allowed me to see a ministry in action. For example, VBS planning started months in advance. Seeing everything come together has been a big learning experience for me.”

Over the summer, the students observed and participated in VBS, Sunday School, the nursery program, and youth events. Both interns explained how beneficial the experience has been so far. Students can gain important knowledge while obtaining a ministry degree, and an internship provides a hands-on education that can be missed inside a classroom.

“There were almost 1,000 kids here for VBS,” says Anja. “We learned a lot about the program. It was fun! So far, the internship has been a mix of administrative work, making copies, and organizing resources. We’ve also experienced ministry hands-on working with kids. For example, we are doing an upcoming VBS in the park in Chaska. As interns, we will be observing how the program runs and helping where needed.”

“I’ve been helping a lot with younger children at Grace,” says Melissa. “My first day on the job I worked one-on-one with a five-year-old in the Barnabas Disability Ministry. It was something I had never done before. I’ve learned that every case is different and every child is unique. Often times you can’t get that kind of experience in a classroom.”

Another Crown student, Dante Irizarry, also interned with Grace during the summer. He is involved within the church’s youth group, teaching lessons and joining the junior high students on retreats.

“My favorite part of this internship has been getting a few opportunities to plan lessons myself. I’ve developed a passion for teaching and spreading the word of God to the next generation,” says Dante. “I also thoroughly enjoyed shooting students with paintballs at our Man Day Retreat.”

In addition to learning the administrative side of the church, Anja specifically explains the opportunity is impacting her personal view of ministry.

“I am learning not to limit my perspective of ministry to just a church,” says Anja. “My dad is a pastor and I didn’t want to work in a church. Growing up, I saw the good and the bad sides of working in a church. This summer I’ve learned that ministry is right where you are. It’s not just inside a church. How you live your life outside is just as important as how you do inside the building.”

Troy Dobbs, Senior Pastor of Grace Church, explains how a job in ministry allows you to not only impact the lives of others, but also shape your own.

“I always tell people not to let their work for God get in the way of God’s work in them,” says Troy. “The greatest ‘work’ is His ‘work’ in us.”

Working in ministry is not always perfect; the same can be said for any job. But Melissa explains her internship revealed how a job in ministry can have a lasting–eternal, even–impact on families and kids.

“Ministry is messy,” says Melissa. “I’ve realized you can’t impact everyone. But I can impact some people who go on to impact others, and the pattern continues. It can be hard to work in ministry because people are always watching you–wherever you are. Ministry is more than a job; it’s how you live your life each day.”