Interning in Worship Ministry Arts // Lake Forest, CA

Article written by Carey, a graduate student in the MAAA program at SPEA. During the academic year Carey serves as a Graduate Assistant at the Bloomington Playwrights Project and as Team Manager at 1Life Young Adults Ministry at City Church for All Nations. She is currently interning with Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA.

Greetings from Lake Forest, California!  I am interning at Saddleback Church as a Worship Ministry Intern.  I’ve been here for about a week and the relocation has definitely been a challenge!

One requirement was that I bring my car, so my mom and I drove out here at the end of May. The drive is over 30 hours, so we made plenty of stops along the way – including family in Oklahoma, a couple nights at a bed and breakfast in Albuquerque and two days of hiking the Grand Canyon.

Saddleback has provided me with a host home for the month, so I am staying in a beautiful home in Irvine, CA with a family of four.  I have my own parking spot, bedroom, and bathroom – and even a running path right behind the backyard!  The hospitality of my host family has made the transition much easier as I get used my new surroundings.

The LA area is a lot like my home town (in northern Virginia), so many of the changes are familiar – lots of traffic, lots of people, lots of shopping.  More unfamiliar to me are the desert, the beach and the smog.  Also the price of gas!  It’s almost $4!

Saddleback Church is a huge organization with many campuses all throughout southern California.  I am working at the main campus, which is in Lake Forest.  It looks and feels very much like a college campus, with parks and pathways connecting buildings that include the Worship Center, The Refinery (youth and high school ministry), 2 office buildings, the children’s ministry building, and 3 tents used for multiple purposes.

summer interns 1

Carey and the rest of the summer cohort of Worship Arts and Communications interns at Saddleback (Photo cred:

The Worship Ministry is in charge of the music at the Lake Forest Campus, but it is also involved with music at all the other campuses as well, because Lake Forest is the central campus.  Every weekend the team provides music for 6 services – 2 on Saturday and 4 on Sunday.  During the week they provide a team for the staff meeting on Tuesdays.  3-4 times a year they have an event called Night of Worship (NOW), which is taking place next Thursday, June 11th.

Last weekend was a very exciting time in the life of Saddleback because it was the final week of a campaign called Daring Faith, and Pastor Rick Warren announced the total amount pledged by the church family.  The total was a world-record-breaking $71 million!  They plan to use the money to plant 10 new churches in the area in the next 3 years.

There is a lot to learn about here, but on my list of things I am excited about:

  1. Learning how the Worship Team functions within the context of the church as a whole – they do a lot of collaboration with pastors, volunteers, other campuses, etc. I am curious to see how that all comes together.
  2. Learning the division of labor – there are a lot of staff members, around 30, and each has different roles that seem to be a mixed bag of hands-on music making, administrative, financial, and a whole lot of other things. I am curious about how those roles develop the way they do and how they deal with turnover when people leave.
  3. Learning about systems – there’s a lot going on here on a weekly basis and I want to know more about what systems they have in place that make it all run smoothly. I have already learned about an online tool they use called Planning Center Online (PCO) to organize various events, and I have learned how to create a document called a song scan, which they create for every song for every event that is used by both production and musicians in various ways.

Next time I’ll talk more about what I’m doing around the office, day-to-day!

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