Are you worried you don’t have the right candidates for your church residency or ministry internship program? You may need to start filtering for a different type of student. Jesus chose twelve ordinary men, but these men all had certain qualities others lacked. You can look for these same qualities and filter for better candidates for your ministry training program. Here is what to look for and how to find it in a candidate:
Look for the Faithful: Above-Average Dedication
When Jesus handed out free bread and fish, the masses were happy to follow him. But when Jesus changed tactics and called people to “take up their crosses,” the masses fell away. He knew this would happen. They too would eventually fall short of the ultimate standard when soldiers hung Jesus on the cross, but the disciples were, nonetheless, above-average in their dedication and faithfulness. And that is what he was looking for!
It takes a lot of resources to train up a leader. You do not want to invest your limited time in people who will later fail to put their training to good use. Look for signs that their commitment is above average. The particulars of your own training program will help you determine what those signs might look like. But it’s likely going to be a lot more than just their GPA.
You can search for some of these signs in the application process by asking the right questions. But you can also filter for better candidates by offering pathways that require greater commitment and faithfulness. A church residency or ministry internship program that offers a degree pathway with a partner school, for example, is a bigger commitment that requires greater faithfulness. As a result, these programs tend to attract more serious, focused, and dedicated candidates.
Look for the Available: Eager for Opportunity
The Apostle Peter was known for his fiery eagerness. He was quick to speak and quick to act. While some might want to give a sermon about Jesus walking on the water, Peter was the type to jump out of the boat and join him on the water. One advantage that ministries have over schools is their access to hands-on mentored training opportunities. Plenty of students can succeed in the classroom but have trouble turning the corner to impact in the real world.
As a ministry, you have immediate access to ministry opportunities for your students. They can be in a class this morning and be serving others by lunchtime. At a Bible school, they might have to wait four years before they substantively use anything they learn. Only emerging leaders eager to serve will sign up for a church residency or ministry internship program that integrates learning with real world ministry. Use this uniqueness to your advantage in the recruitment process. Actively search for the doers and build your program to support those kinds of students.
Look for the Teachable: Hungry for Learning
Look for students hungry to learn. But remember, learning takes many forms. As a ministry-based training program, your niche may not be the high academic achievers. That does not make your candidates any lower in quality, rather it indicates that they will likely be more hungry for the practical side of the education spectrum.
These are the same sorts of people that Jesus attracted. Fishermen of any age are not known for high academic performance. They are action-oriented people. That’s a good thing if you want leaders who can do big things for God.
Look for a Network: Like-minded ministries
Finally, don’t forget that you are not alone. There are plenty of ministries and churches who share your perspective on ministry. Connecting with them can make a big impact on your recruiting process. A reference from a like-minded ministry, for example, will carry a lot more weight than one from someone you do not know or trust. That’s also true for prospective residents or interns deciding between an array of options.
At Eleven:6, we see this play out on a regular basis within our own network of church residency programs, ministry internships, and Christian gap year programs. Over the last twenty years, we have built a network of ministries who value hands-on leadership and ministry training. When a student graduates from a program within our network, very often they are a great fit for a variety of positions throughout our network. They have already been trained in the hands-on context that everyone in our network sees as valuable. And that means one of the biggest filters most of these ministries have in place has already been cleared.
Look for the FAT: Faithful, Available, and Teachable
On one level, Jesus chose very ordinary people. They had no special pedigree by the world’s standards. They did not come with money, high-power connections, or fancy degrees. They were tax collectors and fishermen. But they did all prove to be faithful, available, and teachable, and those traits made all the difference. Look for these traits (and ministry networks who share these values) and you will find the sort of quality candidates that you have been needing.
Eleven:6 specializes in building university-level training programs customized for these types of leaders. Schedule a call and we will get you moving.