The Practicum Can Help You Answer The Most Important Question


A year ago, I got on a plane with a suitcase, a laptop, and some Uno cards to spend a summer as a Reaching and Teaching Practicum student. In God’s kindness, my team and I were able to serve the church, learn what life as a Christian overseas is like, and see examples of how God uses individuals with different gifts to obey the Great Commission. 

My goal in writing this article is to convince young Christians to spend a summer as a Practicum student with Reaching and Teaching. Even crazier, I want to convince you that you should do this even if it means saying no to that amazing internship or ministry opportunity in the States. The Practicum is designed to help students answer one of the most important questions you can ask: “How can I spend my life to glorify God and to build his church?”

Over the last few years, God has moved key truths of God’s Word from my head to my heart. Maybe he has been revealing similar truths to you. 

First, the world is broken, and the greatest problem is mankind’s rebellion against God. Our phones are windows to the world. Through these windows, we’re all bombarded with stories of injustice, famine, war, poverty, and wickedness. Many members of Gen Z clamor for change, desperate to make the suffering stop. But long before the iPhone, the Bible has clearly taught that mankind and the world are broken. Ite demands obedience and gives us the true diagnosis and only remedy. 

The second truth is that the only true solution is a new heart. Social programs, material wealth, or even biblical morality will at best only put make-up on a corpse. Because God is merciful and loving, He desires to redeem people from all around the world, people who suffer from the same brokenness that you and I do. Amazingly, He is pleased to use ordinary Christians and ordinary churches to participate in spreading the message of how Christ has redeemed a people for Himself.

Third, Jesus is worth it. And this isn’t because being a Christian is cheap. Every Christian—whether born in Pyongyang, North Korea; Nairobi, Kenya; or Silicon Valley, California—is called to take up our cross and follow Jesus. Sure, materially rich Christians are especially tempted to be lulled to sleep. The world, the flesh, and the devil say, “You can serve God tomorrow after you have the job, the education, the spouse, and the fun experiences. Besides, you wouldn’t be any use to God without those things anyway. So invest in the world, let compound interest do its thing, and tomorrow you can do great things for God.” 

But Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:24–26) Because the command to make disciples of all nations is clear, every Christian must ask how they will be involved in this work. 

So, the question I am left with, and the question you should ask, is this, “How can I spend my life to glorify God and build his church?” God has given us all skills, resources, and spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ. These gifts include our vocational calling. Some readers might be working in or preparing for the business world. Perhaps you’ll decide the highest return on investment for the talents the Lord has given you is to find a great church in a big city, work hard, and give generously. But this isn’t always true. In fact, with these skills, you can go places that a pastor or seminary student with a missiology degree could never go. Once you’re there, you can stay and serve the churches there. One way Christians love God and neighbor is by pursuing excellence in their work.  You can use your business, your practice, or your trade to serve both believers and non-believers alike. Whether you’re a welder, a counselor, a teacher, or an engineer, you can use your job as you make disciples of all nations. 

To my friends preparing for full-time ministry and especially to the men aspiring to serve as pastors: have you considered using your gifts overseas? There’s a need for biblically faithful, competent, and qualified elders to pastor international English-speaking churches in international cities. There’s also a need for men to move, stay, and do the long work of language learning so that they can spend their lives training local leaders to faithfully pastor healthy churches. 

Our imaginations should be active as we dream about how God could use our specific gifts. The Practicum offers business internships with faithful church members in global cities. It offers opportunities to learn from pastors and seminaries professors. God has equipped you, and the Practicum can give you a vision for how He might use your gifts overseas. Even more importantly as a Practicum student, you will see what a healthy local church looks like overseas. As I grew to love the families of that church, I realized God had also given me good examples of faithful marriages and godly parents. These families were following the Lord in a different cultural context.

I went into the Practicum seeking to answer the question, “How can I spend my life to glorify God and build his church?” I returned home with more insight. But even if I never go overseas, because of the Practicum, I’m better equipped to pray for God’s worldwide work, care for my own church’s workers, and equipping others in my church to go. This past year, I’ve seen over and over how God used the Practicum to make me a better employee and church member. It’s not an overstatement to say the Practicum changed my life. You should consider applying so that you can enjoy the same benefits as me and many others. 

James Sandlin

James is a young professional passionate about using his talents to glorify the Lord and see the gospel proclaimed in all nations. He is an active member of his local church.

Want More Content Like This?

We will deliver Reaching & Teaching articles and podcast episodes automatically to your inbox. It's a great way to stay on top of the latest news and resources for international missions and pastoral training.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.