Some lessons are not taught, but observed.
Caught, not taught.
For example, as a kid I don’t know that anyone ever taught me how to place an order at a drive-thru.
I had watched my parents do this countless times. I learned you place your order first at the speaker. Usually, you wait for a customary greeting from the sometimes not-so-cheerful sounding employee on the other side. You place your order, drive around to the window, and exchange your money. Only after this process do you get the much anticipated food-like substance packaged in a convenient to-go bag.
No one really taught me this process, but yet I had no problem doing it myself as an ambitious 12-year old hanging out with his friends.
Now, I know you’re marveling by now at my preteen genius, but my point remains: not every lesson we learn is taught to us directly; we learn through watching others.
After spending time with the staff at Northridge Church this summer, I feel I’ve learned a lot from watching them work, interact, lead, and pursue Christ together.
In fact, most of the lessons I learned at Northridge impacted me not because they were new information, but because I observed leaders demonstrating them in their own lives in a way I hadn’t seen before.
Which is why I made a short list of takeaways that I learned from my 10-week internship. Here are a few things that are part of the DNA of Northridge Church that I hope to apply in my own life:
- Life is better connected. Biblical community is fertile ground for spiritual growth. Being part of a small group helps keep a “big” church from feeling like you’re lost in the crowd. That’s why even the leaders of Northridge are involved in community groups. Some of the best conversations I’ve had about faith happened in a space other than a Sunday morning church service. If the Sunday service is a platform for teaching, then groups are a space for conversation. Both are essential to growth.
- Excellence inspires. People want to be a part of something when they see it’s done with excellence. Carey Nieuwhof writes, "Barely good enough seems to be good enough for many church leaders. Rather than try to do something well, churches have become famous for doing almost nothing well.” Excellence, on the other hand, honors God with our best work and inspires other people to join us. If you're in a leadership position and wonder why you can't recruit volunteers, it may be time to get an honest evaluation on your ability to do things with excellence.
- Seek feedback. That honest evaluation I mentioned above? That comes from listening and seeking out honest – sometimes brutally honest – feedback. Athletes need coaches to evaluate their performance and help them get better, not yes-men who make them feel good. How much more should the Church desire to get better? To present the Gospel more effectively? To find our blind spots? Our weaknesses? Yes, it’s highly uncomfortable and humbling to ask for others to tell us the things we are doing poorly. It’s even harder to change these things. But accepting feedback keeps our pride in check and allows us to find ways to improve. I need people in my life who are willing to give honest and truthful feedback.
- Passion for the Gospel is contagious. That’s why I’m coming back! I’ve been challenged by the team at Northridge and to work with them is a dream come true. To work for a church that’s putting on great events may be fun, but to work for a church that is passionate about the Gospel is contagious.
There you go. These are just a few ways this internship impacted me. God is at work in Rochester, NY, and I’m honored to be a part of the process with Northridge Church.