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5 Reasons To Offer An Internship Program At Your Church

Posted by Rusty Gates on 8/3/17 7:02 AM

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I’ve had a deep passion for serving the church from a relatively young age and was fortunate enough to have great leaders invest in me early on. Perhaps the most beneficial experience at the very beginning of my ministerial journey was a pastoral internship I received in college.

For 18 months, I served as a pastoral intern participating in practically all areas of ministry, working alongside ministry leaders as well as the senior pastor. Through this time, I found that I truly loved serving the church. I experienced some of the more difficult aspects of ministry, but found that my passion overcame those issues. That time laid a strong foundation that would support my later roles in youth ministry, community engagement, and leadership development.

Since then, I went on to lead several interns through my own ministry programs and found that internships are not only beneficial for young ministry leaders, but also for the churches that offer the internships.

Here are five major benefits that internship programs provide for the churches that offer them.

1. Find future staff members

On the staff side of things, internships are a fantastic recruiting tool. Interns are invited into the ministry and given the opportunity to learn and lead, gaining great experience that will benefit whichever organization that ends up hiring them. As you discover strong leaders through the internship program, you have a great opportunity to bring them onto your own staff full-time.

The recruiting and vetting process involved with making a new hire can be incredibly draining on an already busy church staff. By raising up leaders within your church internship, you dramatically cut back on the costs of a new hire who already knows your culture and processes.

2. Prove great leadership

Whenever a church makes a new hire, there's always the possibility that the candidate doesn't mesh well with your staff culture, regardless of how well the interview went. Internships provide a great opportunity to bring someone onto the team and see how they do beyond interview settings. Unfortunately, if it isn’t a good match at the end of the internship, it’s easy to part ways without much difficulty or hard feelings.

3. Boost ministry productivity

Because they function as additional help, interns are often able to tackle projects that have been on the to-do list for a while that normal staff members might be too busy to complete. Even if the internship isn’t designed for interns to be utility players serving in various ministries, the presence of an extra pair of hands can go a long way to help a single ministry grow and reach its goals.

If interns are able to take on more of the main responsibilities of the ministry, it can free staff members up to do more high level strategic planning, boosting church productivity well beyond the span of the internship.

4. Gain valuable perspective

When a staff has been working together and chasing the same vision for a long time, it is easy for group-think to take over. By inviting interns into the heart of ministry, you will gain the perspective of someone who doesn’t work from the same assumptions widely accepted by your staff. They are able to ask questions that you might have forgotten to ask. If you’re willing to adapt to see progress, this kind of outside perspective can be invaluable to your ministry.

5. Foster a culture of enthusiasm

Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint.Tweet: Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. http://bit.ly/2v0mtoq via @VanderbloemenSG #Vandercast

Anyone who has served in ministry for any significant amount of time is deeply aware of this truth. As such, it is easy to lose the enthusiasm that we brought with us into ministry at the beginning of our journey. Interns are often stepping into new experiences for the first time, bringing with them a passion and excitement that can go a long way in creating a positive environment. While running the marathon of ministry, having some cheering and enthusiasm along the way can make a big difference in how we finish.

What benefits have you seen in having an internship program in your church?

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Topics: Church Development, Hiring & Staffing, Team Building

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