Ministry Internships: Goals That Improve Recruitment and Retention

Are you helping your ministry interns achieve the right goals? The point of education — and discipleship — goes beyond merely passing on knowledge (information). The Great Commission calls us to make disciples by “teaching them to obey” what Jesus has taught (transformation).

You are trying to shape leaders, instill character, and train next gen world changers in essential skills so they can do things, not just so they can know things. The specifics of your ministry internship program will define the details, but setting clear and practical goals throughout the educational process can better align you with Jesus’ original call to discipleship. Plus, doing this can clarify your recruiting messaging and boost the number (and quality) of applicants who want to join your program.

The academic world uses “learning objectives” to help make sure that every instructor/student interaction is purposeful. This article will introduce you to this important concept and show you how to connect great content with clear and practical goals to motivate your interns and improve your recruitment.

What are Learning Objectives?

Learning objectives are specific and measurable goals that you have for your ministry interns. These can be applied whether an intern is in a classroom or taking on a ministry assignment. A learning objective is how you describe what you want them to be able to do in the real world with the training you are investing in them. You can create these objectives by breaking down your broader goals for them into bite-sized pieces. An overly broad goal for any one step in an intern’s journey can make it difficult to measure or achieve.

Starting with your learning objectives, you can then design specific assignments or projects that can build your ministry interns, piece-by-piece, into the sorts of leaders God designed them to become. After each assignment, discover ways to assess whether your interns have learned what you wanted them to learn. The academic world uses tests, papers, and presentations to accomplish this. But, depending on your own specific learning objectives, you may find more hands-on ways of measuring a young leader’s growing abilities.

Jesus Used Learning Objectives

Jesus used the principle of a learning objective in his own teaching. He taught, for example, that that the two greatest commandments are to “love God” and to “love your neighbor.” But he knew we would do better if he defined these goals in smaller and more concrete steps, something we might call a “learning objective.” In his parable in Matthew 25, Jesus gives us an example of this. Here he calls all the people of the nations for an “assessment” at his throne.

“I was hungry and you fed me,” he will say to some

“I was hungry and you did not feed me,” he will say to others.

Jesus taught, quite clearly, that we are to love our neighbors. Breaking that down into bite-sized pieces, he says we should do things like feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and welcome the stranger. These become Jesus’ learning objectives for us. Doing these things demonstrates we are becoming people who love our neighbors.

Simple Goals Paint a Motivating Picture

Part of the reason why Jesus’ parables are so effective is because of the picture they paint in our minds. Principles become concrete examples. Ideals take on human flesh in environments we can understand. That’s the idea behind learning objectives, as well. If you can build your program, piece-by-piece, with simple, clear, and motivating learning objectives, then your ministry interns will see a picture of themselves that both motivates and challenges them.

This, then, can show up even in your recruiting materials. When you build every course, every assignment, and every ministry opportunity with purposeful goals, you can then communicate those clear and concrete goals to prospective students. These pictures of who they could be and what they could do through your training, then become motivation to join your program. You can tell them the story of their lives if they were to become a part of your program. Will your program help them feed the hungry? Save the lost? How will you inspire them to take on the challenge of your program?

Learning objectives aren’t just a tool that you can use in the classroom to organize a lesson, they are a practice in disciplined purpose. They let you organize every interaction and assignment towards a goal for your ministry interns. Your program and your interns will grow as your mission is clarified and brought to life through clear and practical goal setting.

For over twenty years, Eleven:6 has been helping ministry leaders launch immersive training programs that can also earn students credit towards a degree. If you are working to make this transition, then schedule a call with us, today.