6 Keys To A Thriving Internship Program For Your Church


Leadership Network recently published a report on church internship and residency programs. The results provided some great insights into how your church can develop an effective internship or residency program.

Here are 6 key takeaways for your church staff.

1. Personal development is key.

In the survey, the question was asked, "How do you measure success of your program?” and the overwhelming response was “personal maturity in the life of the intern/resident." Smart churches are being intentional about giving their interns and residents opportunities to mature personally, both spiritual and emotionally. Training these individuals to be emotionally elite will serve them well in their years following their time on your church staff.

What is the goal for your church internship or residency program?

2. The most popular church internship is in Children's Ministry.

Our team gets the chance to interact with many churches every day, and a common story we hear is that many churches struggle to find Children’s Pastors. According to LeadNet's survey, Children/Youth internships made up 76% of the church internship programs available. This is good news! With newly developed leaders coming out of these internship/residency programs, churches can look forward to new, energetic individuals looking to be a part of your church's Children’s Ministry program. 

Is your church struggling to find a qualified Children’s Ministry Pastor? Have you considered implementing a Children's Ministry internship?

3. The best people to develop are right in front of you.

When asked where the best candidates came from for internships/resident programs, the majority of the responses stated they found their interns “within our organization.” If you are just starting an internship program or are having trouble finding the right people for it, have you looked within your church? When Jesus spoke to his disciples, he told them to “Be witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the Earth.” Consider taking Jesus' approach to finding new individuals for your internship program, looking first in Jerusalem (your church), Judea (your community), Samaria (your region), then elsewhere, in that order.

Are you having trouble finding people to fill your church's resident program? How can you change your recruiting approach?

4. Giving academic credit is a growing trend.

Even if your church is not in a position to compensate the interns/residents, there are still other ways to make it more enticing beyond the personal development aspect. Partnering with colleges and/or seminaries to offer an accredited internship/ residency program really drives up the value for all parties involved. Offering college credit adds more value to the church internship program for the participants and opens up more resources for the church to use as well.

5. No church is too small to have a internship or residency program.

Many people associate church internship programs with larger churches, like Church of the Highlands or 12Stone. Those churches offer incredible programs to train youth and young adults. But having life-changing internship programs is not restricted to large churches. Churches as small as 100 responded to having an internship/residency program in the LeadNet survey.

What keeps your church from training up the next generation of leaders?

6. Be intentional!

One of the best practices for churches who have an internship or residency program is spending intentional time weekly developing each person in the program. Yes, the interns need hands on experience, and yes, they need to learn to think critically, but most importantly they need someone to be purposeful about pouring into them and developing them one-on-one.

Internship and residency programs are great ways to find and develop your future church staff. When done right, you can have a lasting impact on the kingdom by the way you develop and mentor the up-and-coming church leaders of tomorrow.

What are the next steps for you to create an internship program at your church?

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