Senior Mattheis Lorimor, a theology and history major from Carlock, had thought a lot about going into the ministry, but it wasn’t until he joined the Niebuhr Center’s Ministry Team that he had his first hands-on experience in the field. Today, he credits the Niebuhr Center with making his calling “real.”
Considering a Higher Calling
I was wrestling with the possibility of going into ministry, and the Niebuhr Center’s Ministry Team was my first real hands-on experience in that area. Ministry Team goes to different kinds of churches—Presbyterian, Methodist, UCC—and takes on the various parts of the worship service, from readings to preaching to leading children’s time. I was in my first year at Elmhurst when I was offered the chance to preach a sermon. I was nervous, but I eventually agreed to give it a try.
Taking the Leap
The scripture verse was about Jesus gathering the disciples, so I preached on taking a leap of faith. I talked about the faith it takes to make a commitment, to take a chance. Afterward, I heard so many good things from the congregation. I got so many hugs. Everyone was asking me, “So when are you going to become a minister?” I thought that maybe this is a sign that this is something I should be doing.
How To Preach
It all starts with the scripture verse. You look for the important themes that you can develop. You see if there are stories from real life, maybe from your own life, that illustrate the theme. You want to deliver a message that people can take home with them. That’s what a sermon is about: Making the message stick.
Making It Real
My internships were very important experiences for me. I did an internship with Breakthrough Urban Ministries in Chicago, at their shelter in Garfield Park. It was my first time working with homeless people. It helped me understand some of the roots of poverty and social injustice. I was able to experience social issues coming to life. I also worked as an intern at Faith Evangelical United Methodist Church in Elmhurst. That was a great experience, too, and what made it so great was the chance to work with people. You can read all about church doctrine in class, but internships are where you see the things you learned about in class actually happen. That’s 100 times more interesting. It’s real.
More than likely I will go on to seminary, but first I wanted to spend a year out in the world, getting a little experience and serving others. So I’m a full-time volunteer living in the community and working with homeless youth at Covenant House in Ft. Lauderdale. My job is to figure out the needs of the young people I work with. If there is a substance abuse problem, we help them get treatment. If they are unemployed, we help them with job skills. If there are family issues, we get them counseling. There is always something different to do, and you never know what’s going to happen on any one day. You never know where your day will lead. It’s very rewarding work.
The Niebuhr Center was crucial to my growth. Without it I wouldn’t be where I am now. If you’re wrestling with questions, you can always go to the Niebuhr Center and talk about it. The doors are always open. It’s a wonderful group of people. They have done so much to help me figure things out.