Ministry in the 21st Century: Matt Mulder

Date Published

July 10, 2024

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Published by Calvin Seminary

AV Coordinator and Brewer, 2019 MDiv Alum

So far, my vocational journey has not been a traditional one. After graduating from Calvin Seminary in 2019, I worked for one year in Chicagoland, splitting my time between two churches. This was a relatively short-term arrangement; I knew my wife and I would move wherever her academic career took us in the fall. Sure enough, we moved to Ohio the following year, which meant I would likely not participate in traditional pastoral ministry for a while. Frankly, it was a relief to have some of the stress of ministry taken off of me, especially since my first post-graduation church job unfolded amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As it turns out, I have found unexpected opportunities to use my theological training in my new community in Ohio.

One such place is behind the scenes at Bethel Presbyterian Church, where I worship. My wife and I serve as the church’s audio-visual coordinators. This role allows me to scratch my vocational itch by contributing theological insight and enrichment to something as seemingly non-theological as running a live stream. I have also developed a good working relationship with our senior pastor, so I occasionally provide insights or reflections on a sermon, series, or event. I even get to preach on occasion. However, most of my seminary training comes out in less obvious ways, such as how the sanctuary decor that I helped design points towards the cross metaphorically and literally.

While a church is a fairly typical place to use one’s theological training, my sense of calling also manifests itself in less typical settings. A few months after we moved to Ohio, I got a job at a local brewery. At first, I did not see this job as a direct connection to my calling or training other than the standard neo-Kuyperian “every square inch.” I struggled with my lack of “real” ministry output. Fortunately, my therapist and some close friends helped me realize that bartending fulfilled my calling to ministry. For instance, I once spent three hours discussing the intersection of science and faith from a Reformed perspective with an agnostic coworker. He later told me the conversation allowed him to understand both my perspective and broader Christian perspectives in a more comprehensive and nuanced way. I have also had the privilege of helping my “token atheist regular” (his words, not mine) become more curious about the community at our church, even if he’s not ready to reassess his belief in God.

Living out my call to ministry from behind an AV booth or a bar is not necessarily how I thought I would be fulfilling my vocation, but for now, I believe this is where God has called me.


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