Ministry through Business

By Ashley Rader
Elizabethton Star

Graduation day is drawing near, but for Milligan College senior Michael Birkner, it does not mark the end of his journey with the institution.

Birkner, who previously attended Elizabethton High School, will graduate Saturday with a bachelor’s degree in business. This summer, he will work with the Milligan College Camp Teams. As a camp team member, Birkner will work with others in summer camps around the country and will help recruit new students to attend Milligan.

This summer job may be the perfect fit for Birkner, whose enthusiasm for Milligan is evident when he talks about his soon-to-be alma mater.

“When I was checking around for where I wanted to attend, I knew I wanted to attend a smaller, private Christian school,” he said. “For all the campuses I visited, this was the most beautiful. They had a good reputation, and all my friends who attended school here were so complimentary of the professors and the education they were receiving. Plus, it was close to home.”

Omega 1For the first two years of his college career, Birkner was a commuter, driving to campus each day. He then chose to live on campus to be closer to his friends and the community he had grown to love.

“For my friends who go to other schools, it is just school for them,” he said. “They attend classes, they go home and that is it. For me, Milligan College is a family and it is a community. Professors I had three years ago still know my name. When I go to see plays or concerts, I know the people in them. I have really enjoyed my time here.”

Birkner attended college at Miligan as a Beamer Scholar, a program focused on servant leadership. Birkner received a scholarship through the program and worked in different community service projects in his four years in college. He volunteered with the Melting Pot and the One Acre Cafe in Johnson City. He also participated in campus-based activities, like clothes drives, Trunk-or-Treats and Easter egg hunts.

“I love that I was able to do this in college,” he said. “If it hadn’t been for the program and the scholarship, I probably wouldn’t have been as involved. I love that I did, and I got out there in the community and helped out where I could.”

While Birkner will be receiving his degree in business, it was a winding road that led him to that major. He started out pursuing a degree in health and education science. He changed majors six times before settling on business, landing on microbiology, Bible, humanities and education along the way.

“I really like the idea of entering ministry,” Birkner said. “When I was majoring in Bible, my pastor advised me to choose a major that was a little more far reaching. Churches really are small businesses, and looking at Paul in the Bible, he had a background in tent making so he could support himself. I might go on to seminary, or I might continue my education.”

Birkner is still searching for a permanent job after his time with the camp team is over.

“I am staying open and praying about where I should go,” he said. “If I see opportunities, I apply for them, and if it is what God wants for me, then it will happen.”

Birkner attends Grace Baptist Church in Elizabethton. He is the son of Danny and Becky Birkner, and has two sisters; Kimberly and Jennifer.

This story was originally posted on the Elizabethton Star.