Frontline ministry training programs such as gap year programs, church residencies, and ministry internship programs, offer an incredible opportunity for next generation leaders to gain valuable experience. This experience can help them land a future job and develop the necessary soft skills to succeed in leadership and ministry. Having your training or discipleship program offer college credit adds even more value to this experience as your program could also count towards a degree.
Many ministries go the route of having their program count as an internship or practicum course at a Christian university. Or they make room for interns to take online courses during their internship year. While these strategies add value in one area — academic advancement — they add real challenges that compete with the purpose and opportunity of the program. Making room for online courses reduces time available for hands-on ministry, and online courses are almost always designed very generically, to connect with a wide array of student realities. That misses an opportunity for dynamic learning. Practicum or internship courses are mostly designed to check boxes that give room for experience, but in a way that is not actively organized for your specific ministry context. They add tasks, not intentional formation. Your content and culture will not integrate with what they learn at school.
What if you could deliver college-level courses within your ministry internship program and eliminate the gap between classroom and context? When you use Eleven:6’s proven framework, your program can give students both the content they need and the experience that brings it all to life. There are many schools and there are many ministry training programs, but few offer both. Here’s why offering credit within your program can be the difference-maker for you and your students:
You Are Missing the Perceived Value of Credit
Your ministry internship program is probably great, maybe even life-changing. But how many people know that it’s great? That’s the difference between real value and perceived value. Your program might be the world’s single greatest leadership and ministry training program ever to have existed. But if people do not know this, then your program lacks perceived value. You need your program to have great value and for people to see that great value if you want people to sign up.
When your program is able to deliver students credit towards a college or masters degree, suddenly, your program looks a lot better. Your program gets to borrow, so to speak, the reputation of that partner school. There is a perceived value attached to college degrees and academic credit. It is a value that people count on.
Do people know how much your program is worth?
You Are Missing a Broader and Better Recruitment Pool
Some students want credit. Others are not looking for credit. If your ministry internship program does not offer credit, you can only recruit one of those two groups. You get both groups if you have a quality program that also provides degree pathways for students. On that point alone, offering credit can help your program stand out.
But having a program with degree pathways also helps you attract higher-quality candidates. Students pursuing degrees and even careers in ministry tend to have a seriousness about their training. They are not dedicating a summer, a semester, or a year to this work. They are giving their lives to it. That level of commitment can impact how they approach and engage in your church residency or ministry internship program. Plus, those who go on to careers in ministry are also likely to send their own future leaders back through your program, giving you a future recruitment pool.
Do you need a broader and better recruitment pool?
You are Missing a More Productive Ministry Intern or Resident
One of the most consistent results ministries see when they use our framework to offer credit, is a boost in intern productivity. Part of the process of offering credit is adding various types of assessments throughout your program. Getting that regular feedback helps students live up to the challenge of your program. They can see where they need to grow and how they can boost their growth. Plus, if your student is working towards a degree by earning credit, they are paying tuition. This alone has a way of raising the perceived value and importance of fully engaging with your program. The sum total of all these factors results in a more productive and dedicated emerging leader.
Do you need more serious residents or interns in your program?
You Are Missing a Larger Network of Partners
Over the years, you may have developed a fine network of churches and ministries who know and respect your program. But on your own, your reach will always be limited. Partnering with a school so students can earn credit broadens your network. That network can now include people who know and respect that partner school. It can include other churches and ministries that also partner with or respect that school. Suddenly, you have connections to a much broader network of ministry leaders who can further your goals and the goals of your students.
Few ministries take advantage of these key partnerships that colleges and universities can offer. But providing degree pathways for students who go through your program can be a key difference-maker not just for your ministry but for your interns, as well.
Eleven:6 has spent twenty years helping ministry leaders develop difference-making training programs. Schedule a call to learn how your training program can offer degree pathways for your graduates.