Zack Howard (2017)
As a college student, I was asked to preach for the first time in my freshman year. It was from there that I realized my love for spreading the gospel. During my time at Florida College I tried to take in as much as I could from my Bible courses, all while I connected the biblical events to other historical events, because of my main course of study. In my four years at Florida College I focused on history, because I felt I wanted to teach early on in my college career. However, as the years went on and I came closer to finishing up, I realized what it was I truly wanted to do, which was preach.
In my senior year, I was privileged to intern at the congregation I had been attending for 3 years. It was an exciting opportunity for me, and it opened my eyes to the different aspects of preaching. Because of those different aspects of preaching, I realized I needed to grow and learn as much as I could about them, and so I looked for more intensive and inclusive internship.
One of my favorite things about preaching is the studying I have to do to present a lesson from God’s word. There is always something new and interesting to learn from the Bible, and when I learn of them I try to share them as often as possible. I am excited and thankful for this opportunity with the brethren at Fairview Park, and I am thankful God has blessed me with the chance to work with them.
Zach Birkner (2015-16)
My only regret in regards to the training program at Fairview Park was that I couldn’t stay longer. From the moment I got there I had the opportunity to hit the ground running preaching, teaching, and growing in Christ. I was very impressed with the leadership of the congregation who fully supported me in every way, as my wife and I moved in from out of state, to work with a group of people we didn’t really know. The main reason I wanted to come to this group was all the good things I heard about the members of the congregation, and they didn’t disappoint. We found out first hand, that they are a strong group of dedicated servants for the Lord. They went above, and beyond to make us feel welcomed, and to help me to grow as a preacher.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this program prepared me for full time preaching work. I was able to preach and teach every week, and able to work on my lesson development. I loved having opportunities to have bible studies outside of worship services with members of all ages young and old. The people took us under their wing, and made us one of their own. We bonded together quickly, and it was very difficult to leave those who were a constant encouragement to me and my wife. They picked me up when I was down, and gave me the strength to face the challenges of life. Even through frustration I always knew the congregation had my best interest at heart, and always felt encouraged by them. The example set by others inspired me to be a better Christian, and to stick to the good work of God.
As my time was winding down, we found out my wife was pregnant. It was wonderful news, but that meant it was time to move on. Even though I wished I could stay longer to continue to grow and improve, I felt confident that all the experience I had prepared me for the difficulties ahead. Jacob, the Elders, and the congregation provided me with all the opportunities, and tools I needed to develop and grow, both as a preacher, and as a man. I was saddened to go, but grateful for all they had done for me. They definitely prepared me to do what I came there to learn to do, and for that I will always be thankful.
Nick Angel (2013-14)
No amount of study or learning can quite beat on the job training, and that is exactly what I experienced during my time working with the Fairview Park Church of Christ as their preacher intern. It became apparent very early on that working with a church as a preacher and teacher consisted of much more than just presenting two lessons from the pulpit every week or teaching a Bible Class. Establishing relationships, serving others, and seeking the lost are just a few of the weekly responsibilities of the position, and I was able to get a glimpse of that first hand.
One of the best things about being able to begin your work preaching and teaching is being able to do so in a controlled environment where you have much more experienced men around you who are able to walk with you along the way and help you learn how to deal with certain situations or struggles that exist within the work of a preacher. I was exposed to many different situations that will help me to know how to deal with such when I face them at other congregations I might be working with.
Another great blessing of this specific program is the location. Being in Little Rock allows you to be very close to many strong and thriving congregations of the Lord’s people. Many friendships were established, during my time in Little Rock, that have continued to be such blessings in my work. The opportunity to go and preach at other area congregations allowed me to network with other preachers and brethren, which has continued to prove to be invaluable. I wouldn’t trade my time in Little Rock for this one reason alone.
Far too few churches are willing to put in the time effort in order to help train preachers and teachers, and I greatly appreciate the efforts of the shepherds, deacons, and preachers of Fairview Park who desire to “entrust these (things) to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (II Timothy 2:2). I am thankful for my time with this program, and I hope that God is glorified in everything that has come from it.
Jeremy Crump (2011-12)
I would heartily recommend the evangelist training program at Fairview Park to any young man desiring firsthand experience preaching the gospel. During my time there, I was given ample opportunity to preach (at Fairview Park and at nearby congregations), to teach classes of all ages, to write articles on a wide range of biblical topics, to study, and to involve myself in various aspects of a preacher’s work such as visiting the sick and hosting Bible studies. Along the way, I was helped and encouraged by the church here in this work.
The training program gave me the freedom to develop my abilities in a structured way while providing feedback and guidance. The leaders of the church were very supportive and involved in my development as a preacher. I always felt welcomed by the congregation as well. The central Arkansas area is blessed with many congregations of the Lord’s people; because of that I was able to be involved in a larger community beyond just the Fairview Park church. I was invited to preach at several other churches in the area and had opportunity to study and meet with many other local preachers.
After two years working at Fairview Park, I feel very prepared to take on full-time work. Because of the time spent there, I am a more confident speaker and a more knowledgeable Bible student than I was before. Currently, I am preaching regularly for a congregation in Florida and - Lord willing - plan to preach the gospel for as long as I am able.
Jason Lankford (2010)
My experience here with the Fairview congregation has been a valuable one. I definitely feel that I am leaving with much more than what I came in with. The church here is a very unified body who express a common interest and common love for our Father. I developed many strong relationships with the members and was very sad to leave. But I know that those relationships will hold strong through the years and the members there will always be an encouragement to me.
The work was a beneficial one in many respects. This program is catered towards someone interested in getting a feel for what all will be involved with a full time work. You will get experience teaching classes and other studies along with that. You will get experience writing articles and will be introduced to new areas. This program is directed towards preaching, teaching classes and personal study, which is an area we all need to grow in. Also, there are many opportunities where you’ll be invited by other congregations in the area to speak.
This program proved to be a growing experience for me and I really benefited greatly from it. Dennis was very helpful in giving feedback and being there to help me when I was struggling with something, and the elders were very supportive as well. I recommend this program to anyone who is looking to grow in areas beyond the pulpit, realizing that there is much more to “preaching” than just delivering a lesson
Justin Mock (2009)
My time with the church at Fairview was excellent. The people are great influences, encouragers, and teachers. But Fairview is more than a place with great people - it it a place for great growth.
Before working with Dennis, I had been preaching for about three years, working with the evangelist at the congregation where I attended. Preaching once a month was great when I first began, but after only preaching every now-and-then, I wanted to do more; I wanted to be more involved; I wanted to better understand the kind of work that an evangelist does. Yes, preaching is important. But it is also much more than that.
Working with Fairview this past summer, I learned preaching. While I had a few years experience in this area, I never want to feel like I’ve reached "that place" where I no longer need to improve. Even with the experience I already had, there was no shortage of ideas and constructive criticisms to keep me moving forward. Basil Copeland would walk me through the various areas of presenting a sermon, and how I could better myself in public service, as well as ways to make the lessons themselves not only stronger, but more effective to everyone.
I also learned teaching. In contrast to preaching experience, I had virtually no prior experience teaching. Every wednesday night I was tasked with teaching the 20-something class on a topic of my choice. Though coming up with a topic was easy, the idea of helping others learn something that can make them better Christian servants was a daunting task. I was constantly trying to find new ways to help those whom I was teaching, and Dennis was always ready and willing to help me any way he could. I learned what makes an effective class, what makes an effective teacher, and how to help others in their walk with God.
Overall, I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with the church at Fairview. It has been a blessing to get to know everyone there, and has genuinely changed who I am. I highly recommend this program to anyone who is even thinking about evangelism. You will benefit from it in ways you never imagined you would.
Zach Redmon (2008)
Doesn't everyone love a good investment? I feel that I have spent the three most profitable months of my life working with the church of Christ at Fairview Park over the summer. I have always had a fervent love for God's word and desire to spend my life in service to Him. I did not know if my work would be in the ministry, as an elder or deacon, or simply as a Christian proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Before I began working with the congregation in Little Rock I wondered if someone of my ability would be suited to do the work of an evangelist.
It didn't take long for me to understand how the work of an evangelist involves more than preaching two sermons a week and teaching a Bible class. I had worked with the congregation for almost a month before I had an opportunity to stand before the assembly and "preach" a sermon. The first two weeks were spent in preparing material for Vacation Bible School. This proved to be much more challenging than any sermon I have ever prepared and required a lot of time and effort. It was at this point that I began to realize that the term "preacher" is quite often misused. While preaching is important it is not the only work that an evangelist is called to do. Shortly after Vacation Bible School was over I had an opportunity to work with Don McClain on his radio program Searching for theTruth.This became a regular activity that I had to factor into my schedule.
After I had become accustomed to the work Dennis added a lot of other things to my plate. I was given the responsibility of preparing the monthly News and Notes and What is True bulletin. Along with that came the quarterly Not of This World bulleting for teenagers and young adults. On every other Wednesday I would go with Dennis and watch him record the lessons for the television program What is True. I began preparing a lesson that I would later present with him. While all of this was taking place we were dedicating at least one afternoon a week to visit some of the shut ins and elderly.
After the second quarter ended in June I added the task of teaching the young adult Bible class on Wednesday nights. All the while I am continuing to work on the radio program, visit the sick, prepare sermons and invitations, work on the bulletins, and find time for personal study.
Perhaps the biggest blessing of working here this summer are the relationships that were built with the members of the congregation. Part of the blessing and work of an evangelist is getting to know the different members of the Church. Through them I have been the recipient of countless prayers, encourgament, and edification. The fervent desire of the brethren here to serve God stirred me up to labor in His kingdom as well.
It truly has been a blessing working here this Summer. With the help of Dennis, the Elders, and the members I feel more prepared than ever before to begin laboring in the kingdom of God as an evangelist. I have come to a full understanding of what the work entails and it thrills my soul to be able to serve God in this manner. Working here has helped me gain my footing and pointed me in the direction that God wants me to go. My time here has been well spent and I thank God for the experience of being here this summer in preparing me to preach the gospel.
Mason Broadwell (2007)
My internship at the Fairview Park congregation prepared me to serve God's people in three important ways:
First, it improved my interpersonal skills. The art of interacting with and effectively serving one another as God's children is difficult, and though each of us is called to serve in this way (Philippians 2:1-4), evangelists especially must be adept at ascertaining and meeting the needs of the Christians in their congregations. Having to find my feet in a large congregation with which I was almost entirely unfamilar and then to find a way to be useful forced me to learn how to talk to people, gain their confidence, and then be as helpful as my limited time and resources would allow. Being invited into the members' homes was a good start, but I found that I had to reach out myself and make friends if they wouldn't come to me. By doing this, I formed some very valuable friendships, but also encouraged (and was very encouraged by) my fellow-heirs with Christ in God's kingdom.
Second, it built my teaching skills. I grew considerably as a teacher in my preaching assignments, but the more rewarding and challenging assignment was the college Bible class. I had never written, prepared, and taught a Bible class all at once, but I was able, with the help and patience of my students, to do all three and, more importantly, to discover which methods of preparation, teaching, and study were most helpful. James' warning about teachers (3:1) is a fearful one, and without my experience in the pulpit and in the classroom at Fairview, I would be must more hesitant and much less prepared to teach anyone about the Truth of God's Word.
Finally, the internship taught me valuable lessons about how congregations ought to and do operate. Since Fairview had a strong, functioning eldership and useful, devoted deacons, I saw how a congregation ought to be shepherded. In addition, I realized at Fairview that every member of a congregation has something (a skill, an idea, a contact) that they feel can be used to help the group, and that it is important to find those people, listen to their ideas, and give them consideration. A congregation obviously cannot implement every idea that is put forward (at the very least because it would undermine the elders' authority), but if the congregation can foster a sense of striving together toward a common goal, much good can be accomplished. Fairview has done much to achieve this synergy, and though its members would not claim perfection or anything close, they did impart to me an example of a congregation "growing up in all things into Him who is the Head, Christ; from whom the whole body, fitly framed and knit together by that which every joint supplies, according to the working of each separate part, promotes the increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:16).
I am grateful for the time I was able to spend at Fairview Park, and for each of the wonderful people who have made my life so much richer by their lives, their examples, and their hospitality. The lessons of that summer are still so valuable to me, and it is with humility and thankfulness that I realize often that I would not be what I am without the kindness and encouragement of the saints at Fairview Park.
Ryan Goodwin (2006)
I was immersed into preaching by the Fairview Church’s internship program back in 2004, their first endeavor into preacher training and my first experience with full time preaching and teaching commitments. Not only was my time in Little Rock enjoyable and memorable, but it was also challenging and thought-provoking. Many misconceptions I had about a preacher’s ministry were dispelled because of the efforts of the elders, the local evangelist, and, especially, Basil Copeland, a highly respected man who was appointed to be my personal counselor through the training process. While the program involved a great deal more work than I thought it would, I also found it to be significantly more rewarding.
The Fairview Church will always hold a special place in my heart because of the role it played in my development. It was, after all, a first for me in many ways: my first full time experience; my first significant amount of time away from my home state of Oregon; my first opportunity to experience the culture of one of America’s most diverse and beautiful states. But it was also a first for the church and its leadership. They took a chance on an unknown quantity, just as they have done every year since then. When a young man sets out to preach, there is a lot of uncertainty, and many congregations fail to take the necessary risks in order to see the reward of training up the next generation of diligent evangelists. With an emphasis on sound doctrine, hard work, and love from a godly spirit, the Fairview Church has continually kept its lamp stand bright.
Even though I went on to complete more long-term training programs in the future, as well as college education, and two full-time preaching jobs, it was the internship program at Fairview that jumpstarted my ministry. It was the catalyst for everything else I have accomplished, by the blessing of God and His guidance.
I am now married, with a child on the way, and laboring with a healthy congregation of over 100 in Abilene, Texas. Bless the Lord, O my soul!