Internship Programs

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Getting an Intern

Many churches need a lot of help over the summer, where things heat up and the youth or children leaders cannot keep up with all of the needs of the church. But this is also one of the hardest times to recruit new volunteers to meet the demand because everyone is out on vacation. One simple solution for this is an intern. For a wide variety or reasons, many college students studying to be ministers are looking for places to serve and learn over the summer months. As this is an experience they are seeking out, not to mention one that is often required by their schools, payment can be minimal enough to make it cost effective for even a relatively small church.

Students who are seeking an internship for the summer can be found by calling either your denominational schools or any local Christian college or university. The people there can put you in touch with any religion majors interested in serving for the summer. They can also inform you of any requirements they might have for summer ministry internships.

These interns can be gathered for a wide variety of purposes. Youth and children are of course the most common, but worship and even senior pastor interns can be effective. Bringing someone in at the beginning of summer to work with the senior pastor, who then takes over for a bit the next year is an effective strategy for covering a pastor's sabbatical or vacation.

Paying for your Intern

If they are local students, the cost should be minimal, but if they are going to be living in your town, room and board with a stipend for travel and other necessities is definitely expected. Basically, pay them the best wage you can. But if you can only provide them with a place to stay in someone's home, food and travel expenses don't be afraid to still make the offer. Good ministry students are often willing to sacrifice in order to serve and gain experience.

Having a family in your church willing to take someone under their wing and in their home for the summer can be a great blessing to both the intern and the church's budget. But if your church can afford a decent wage do not skimp simply because they are not fully qualified yet.

Build a Long Term Internship

For the most effective ministry, your people and the intern must know each other. That means time. Often it is a good idea to have a several year commitment from each intern. The requirements of each intern can increase with the years. This will correspond with the increasing abilities of the student as they keep learning throughout the school years.

This system can be very effective for larger churches (700+), where multiple interns can be cycling through at any one time. But the problem is that it requires either a larger financial commitment from the church or interns who live in the area and therefore can be part time without much in the way of financial requirements.

To see a working proposal for a cycling three year internship program, see media:College Church Internship Program Proposal.doc. This document was created by Mike Kipp in 2000 for use in College Church of the Nazarene's youth internship program. They naturally have a large supply of ministry students nearby (hence college in the name) but the same program can be adapted for use in many situations.