Ministry internships play a unique and powerful role in raising up the next generation of Christian leaders. A quality program can easily identify emerging leaders, train them to operate within your culture, and mentor them to grow not just as leaders but as disciples of Christ. There are a few essentials that every program should have. Keep these in mind as you continue with your current batch of interns and as you plan for the next round.
Mentoring Matters Most
Internships are designed to be personal in nature. With a ministry internship, emerging leaders get the opportunity to get up close and personal with those already in ministry. While you may decide that an intern should learn the full breadth of your ministry and bounce around between departments, be sure they have a clear point of contact with a single mentor.
Mentors should have regular check-ins with their intern, invite questions, and give them opportunities to take on responsibility. Having ownership of a specific initiative or ministry area that suits their interests and skillsets can also be a powerful opportunity for growth. Their mentor is able to provide real-time feedback, support, and guidance to help them learn and succeed. Building that feedback into both the calendar (regular rhythms) and the toolbox (consistent approach/framework) will help both the mentor and the intern gain real lift and avoid drain.
Schedule Milestones and Growth
Consider what you want your interns to do, be, and know. Make a list with clearly established measurable objectives in each of these areas. This can bring clarity and focus to your program. Develop a timeline that shows when certain targets are to be met. Create milestones mapped out ahead to motivate your interns to stretch towards these goals and grow as leaders. They also can provide feedback that is helpful in measuring your interns’ growth and progress.
Think through how these milestones can be an integral part of your overall mission as a ministry. For example, you can give interns responsibility to implement or run certain initiatives that have value to your organization. As they carry out that work they gain experience and you gain the fruit of that initiative. This benefits your organization and them. As always, make sure their mentor is closely tied in with whatever responsibilities they are given. This ensures proper coaching and accountability.
As with anything, a little intentionality and smart structure setting growth outcome objectives for your ministry internship program will improve the impact of your program, for both interns and for the ministry programs you deploy them to. This is one key area where integrating the Eleven:6 Learning Blueprint framework produces amplified program value.
Connect Them with Your Culture
Bringing on a new staff member, whether fresh out of school or from another ministry, always brings the risk of culture clash. People can agree on doctrine and mission, but struggle because the culture of your ministry differs from the culture where they were trained. This is where your ministry internship program can be such an asset for your growing ministry. The most formative time in a young leader’s training is with you. Take hold of this opportunity and your internship program can drive your growth by providing a pipeline of leaders trained and connected to your culture.
Culture refers to things like values, beliefs, and behaviors. Part of this could be actual doctrine, but, more often, it is the way you go about implementing your ministry’s teachings. It is the way people talk with each other, how teams function and interact, as well. Culture determines how programs are built and presented to others. Many of these things do not have a strictly right or wrong way of doing them. But every ministry has its own way of doing things. Raise up a group of leaders who are trained in your way of doing things to smooth the process for onboarding potential new staff.
The foundation of every great ministry internship program is mentoring. And when you tie that mentoring to clear objectives and a healthy culture, then your internship program becomes a leadership pipeline. That’s great for you and your interns.
For over twenty years, Eleven:6 has been helping ministry leaders build 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.