Playing sports, watching movies and taking road trip adventures sounds more like a summer vacation than an internship. But for Huntington University senior Josh Wood, it’s all part of the job.
Wood, a youth ministry major from Mishawaka, Ind., is currently serving at First Baptist Church in Naples, Fla., as a high school ministry intern. Wood is interning there for his PRIME experience, a seven-month immersion into ministry that all Huntington University ministry majors participate in during their senior year.
Wood started serving in January and will stay through July. He helps with everything from keeping attendance records to creating and organizing events. “I also assist the youth pastor in preparing for the weekly services and planning for future events,” Wood said. “We have different programs that reach students who are at every level of spirituality. We cover everything from people who claim there is no God to those who are the utmost quality of disciples.”
But Wood’s favorite part of his PRIME experience has been what he gains from working with the high school students.
“They are all fun to be with,” he said. “We play sports, eat, watch movies, and just hang out together. Oftentimes, these informal meetings turn into deep meaningful discussions.”
Wood’s favorite student memory to date was a road trip experience that provided time for some great talks with students.
“We traveled to Orlando for the local high school’s state championship girls’ basketball game,” he said. “It was only supposed to be a two and a half hour drive, but it took us over five hours to get there. We made it in time for the last three minutes of the game, turned around and came back. While on the trip, we talked about how we can be more effective at reaching their school for Christ and laughed and joked the whole time. It was a great quality road trip.”
Wood said his PRIME experience has taught him a great deal about how much youth ministry depends on the volunteer staff. “The ministry cannot be built upon the pastor,” he said. “It must be built upon the individual as being a part of the body of Christ. The leaders are very influential. If there is a bad leader, then they can in turn hurt the progress of our students.”
While Wood appreciates how his Huntington University classes and professors prepared him for youth ministry, he is most grateful for their emphasis on experience along with textbook knowledge.
“I think the number one thing that my professors and classes have helped me with was equipping me with the mindset that even after I finish all the courses and everything, I will not know it all,” he said. “There is a certain level of learning that must come with experience. My classes have helped me in certain areas of teaching and relating with students. During the time I have spent at Huntington, I have been pleasantly surprised with the overall mindset that I gained for how I approach situations in which there is no textbook answer.”
For Wood, his PRIME experience has confirmed his calling to youth ministry.
“I love working with the youth and this church has been amazing to work with,” he said. “My PRIME is doing a great job at preparing me for ministry and not only are they helping prepare me, but working with a church of this caliber will also help me to get positions elsewhere when the time comes.”