Dream of Destiny is delighted to share the experience of one of its first internship grant recipients, Matthew McBirth In today’s post, Matthew gives us a candid glimpse into his summer internship at Castle Hills Christian Church.
This summer I spent 10 weeks in the city of San Antonio, Texas doing a youth internship at Castle Hills Christian Church (CHCC). CHCC reaches out to its surrounding community, which is an area that has been transitioning from a predominantly white middle-class area of the city into an urban community that has both white and Hispanic ethnicities represented. Throughout the community where CHCC is located are people below the poverty line and people who are upper-middle class citizens. For this reason, the church has been transitioning to better represent the community to which it ministers.
The past 10 weeks have been an amazing experience to say the least. Some of the responsibilities that were assigned to me were leading Sunday school for the middle school students, preaching to the students and to the adult congregation, leading and helping out with trips and events and spending time with the students and members of the church. The moments that stick out to me most are the times when I was able to step back and observe the group of people that I was with. For example, at the church’s vacation bible school near the end of my internship, so many students from the church and the surrounding community came to the church at night to learn about and worship God. As I looked at the group of 100 to 150 kids, teenagers and adults, I saw the body of Christ. I saw people of different skin complexions, different social statuses, different ages and different cultures worshiping Jesus together. This was one of the most beautiful things I got to be a part of throughout the summer.
Something else unique about Castle Hills Christian Church are the services that they have. They have an English-speaking service and a Spanish-speaking service that go on at the same time. While these services are running there is a service that occurs in a separate building for the teenagers of the adults who attend the adult services. Since Castle Hills is becoming more diverse and has a service specifically for Spanish-speaking people, the teen service is probably the most diverse body of people out of the whole church. In fact, in the teen service the majority of the students are Hispanic and the minority are white. When I first witnessed this I was amazed because I had never been a part of a youth group or even a city where the national majority ethnicity was the minority. However, when I spoke to the teens about the demographics of their youth group, it was something that was not surprising or even stuck out to them. To them it was the norm.
You would think that since most of the students were Hispanic the culture of the youth group would be one that reflected only the Hispanic community. This was not the case at all. Throughout the summer I saw different moments where both cultures were displayed and encouraged. This happened without the students even noticing and I believe this is because the students were already accustomed to it because of the city of San Antonio’s diversity. My point behind saying this is that this is the future of the church. Teenagers are embracing not only ethnic diversity but cultural diversity. I believe teenagers all over America would do the same if it was something intentionally promoted and embraced by the leaders of the church right now. If the staff at Castle Hills Christian Church did not embrace and intentionally try to push for cultural and ethnic diversity, then the church would remain ethnically homogeneous.
My prayer is that more churches that are located in diverse cities and communities would take after Castle Hills Christian Church’s example and intentionally push for diversity. Going back to the week of vacation bible study that I mentioned earlier, I believe that when people who are different in so many ways – from social status to up bringing – come to worship God together they better represent what the body of Christ looks like. It looks more beautiful, and it’s a more accurate reflection of what heaven looks like, where all peoples, languages and colors will come together to worship God (Rev 7:9).
I was very blessed to spend my summer at Castle Hills Christian Church and I want to thank the staff and congregation at CHCC for allowing me to do my internship there. I want to thank Dream of Destiny and its partners for also making it happen and for supporting me financially to help me finish my last year of Bible college. We need more people to call for diversity in America’s churches, and I will do the same in the future. Thanks for investing in me!
About Matthew McBirth
Matthew McBirth, from Jeffersonville, Indiana, just began his senior year at Ozark Christian College. He has served as an Admissions counselor for the college and is active in the youth ministry at Hope City Church in Joplin, Missouri. Matthew is studying to be a youth minister for a multi-ethnic church in an urban context.