The people who are hiring your church residency or ministry internship graduates require applicants with degrees. The traditional university model of education has limitations when it comes to producing the type of hands-on ministry leaders that you know the church needs. But a degree is still the gold standard that will get your trainees in the door to interview for their dream leadership position.
And once they are in the door, how will they actually get the job? They will need experience that proves their degree is worth the paper it’s written on. You are missing out if your ministry training program offers the valuable hands-on experience employers are looking for but does not offer college credit or degree pathways. And your students are missing out as well.
But don’t panic!
Here are the four elements you need for your Christian gap year, internship, or church residency program to begin offering college credit and/or degree pathways.
A Learning Environment with Real World Experience
This first element is where churches and ministries typically excel. Because you can offer training that resides at the frontline of real ministry, your interns can graduate with something that classroom-only students never earn. They have resume-quality experience!
Experience is valuable in a number of ways. First, it is the only place where a student can really develop what many term as “soft skills.” The ability to think critically, to relate with other people, and, even, have a level of self-awareness, are all skills that cannot be properly taught in a classroom. They are developed when a person navigates in the real world.
Employers value these soft skills. That is especially true in the ministry world. Ministry is all about people. So ministries want their new hires to have the skills to work with people. Having a resume with real ministry experience can make all the difference when they actually try to get a job.
A Program With a Goal in Mind
You’ve heard the saying, “If a man knows not which port he sails, no wind is favorable.” This is especially true for any kind of church residency, ministry internship, or Christian gap year program that your ministry may have. Most ministry programs are founded on ideals rather than goals. But you need both to succeed in the long term.
An ideal may explain why you got on this ship in the first place. Does your ministry love young people and want to build them up? Are you focused on obeying the Great Commission? Maybe your program began because your ministry has a heart for teaching the Word of God. These are all solid reasons or ideals that explain why you are sailing on this particular ocean of leadership and ministry training.
But you also need to know what port you are aiming for while on this ocean. You want your program participants to arrive at the next stage of their lives with certain skills and abilities. You’ll need a program that directly aims at those skills and abilities. One goal that many students are looking for in a program is the ability to leverage their work with you towards a degree. That’s a great goal to have and it is one that you can help your students achieve. Deciding to have that goal is, itself, an essential part of achieving the goal. Let’s see what else you need to make this a reality.
Haven’t quite figured out if your trainees need to get credit? Read “Your Residents or Interns Want Academic Credit! We Can Help.” to learn more.
An Academic Partner
Next you will need a college or university who is willing to partner with you. Schools have the ability to recognize work that is done in their own classes. But they also can recognize work from students that is done in partner programs. That is where you could fit in.
You will want to find a school who shares your particular vision for equipping people in leadership. You also want a school who recognizes the value of the sorts of hands-on education opportunities that frontline ministries tend to be so good at.
Sadly, most schools only offer standard one-size-fits-all type programs. They have the classes and content already mapped out and give very little interaction with your program specifics. This makes it hard for you to pass on to students the sort of unique DNA that your ministry has worked so hard to develop. That is why, at Eleven:6, we usually only recommend customized ministry training programs. If you are like most readers, you are thinking: that sounds expensive and complicated. But that’s only true if you don’t have the next element.
Learn more on how to partner rather than compete with schools, here.
A Bridge Between You and the School
Even though most ministry leaders have spent time, sometimes a lot of time, going to school for their own ministry training, that does not mean they have the academic toolbox necessary to transition a church residency or ministry internship program into the academic world. The academic world is a unique place. It has its own standards, language, and way of doing things. It’s certainly possible to find your own way and build your own bridge. But that is a time-consuming and frustrating journey for even the smartest and most well-intentioned ministry leader. And there are a lot of concessions involved.
At Eleven:6, we know this because we have been there in our own ministry. It was a long road. It was complicated and frustrating. We made mistakes. But in the end, we were proud of what we built. Through that journey, we figured out how to build customized leadership and ministry training programs that delivery college-level outcomes and can link up with partner schools to offer college credit and even degree pathways.
Now, twenty years later, we have dedicated ourselves to helping other ministry leaders accomplish the same. But having been through it all ourselves, we can navigate you through without all the expense or complication that you would otherwise run into. In fact, when we help you design and set up a program that bridges students into degree pathways, we do not even charge you. We get paid through regular tuition sharing agreements with our partner schools. And your residents or interns will often have access to discounted tuition rates we have negotiated on their behalf.
The ministry training world is changing. More and more leaders are realizing that their students need academic credit and degree pathways for completing various training programs. With the right program, the right partner school(s), and someone to help you bridge between the two, your students can get the credit they need and deserve.
Eleven:6 would love to be your bridge by helping to connect your program with the right school. Schedule a call with us to learn how your training program can offer degree pathways for your graduates.