What to do with Interns

WHO: Full-Time Position for Recent College Graduates
We only have recent college grads for interns.  If they are exploring a call to ministry, then this is the job for them! If they are pursuing “secular” careers we just ask them to give back a year.  We operate under the idea that if you pay a student to do ministry than you have a harder time helping other students understand that everyone is suppose to do ministry. We have a core team of student leaders who do the work of the ministry.  To pay one of them to do the work that others may be doing for free would be counterproductive.  We do have student leaders who operate similar to interns who we call “staff” but it is a volunteer position.

For a person to be considered a candidate for internship we look at:
Are they FAT (Faithful, Available, Teachable)?
Do they fit the model of a Disciple Maker?
I’m attaching the Discipleship Ladder from Steve Shadrach’s Fuel and the Flame that articulates what we mean by this.
Are they willing to raise their salary?

WHEN: Commitment: 1-2 years right after college.
They have to raise their salary, but we provide housing for them.

WHAT: Focused on Discipleship and Evangelism
We don’t hire interns to cut papers and make phone calls.  We hire them to be boots on the campus to share the gospel and teach others to share the gospel.  We have an office assistant who makes phone calls and does admin paperwork.  Why would we take someone who can blend in on the college campus, understands the language, and has the energy and then put them in an office somewhere getting coffee for us?

Here are some non-negotiables for our interns:
Actively involved in an outreach event on campus weekly (tabling on campus, evangelism on campus, etc.)
Meeting with students of the same gender in a 1-on-1 or 2-on-1 discipleship relationship (student leaders, young believers, not-yet-believers).
Spend at least half their time on campus. We don’t want them hanging around our building.  Students are on campus, we should be too!
Lead a piece of the ministry pie. We believe they should have their own part of our ministry that they lead and provide vision for (freshmen, outreach, evangelism, a new campus plants, greeks, on-campus communities, etc)
Plan and lead a mission trip (our intern this year lead a team of 35 to the Pacific Northwest over Christmas)
Meet with me weekly for coaching, encouragement, bad dad jokes, and troubleshooting of their ministry and discipleships, etc.

These are the essentials, but we’ve tweaked and worked with interns based on their giftedness. Some of our interns have started work on community colleges around us, others have lead our freshmen outreach, others have ran our social media while they do the essentials, others have lead our worship team as well.  It just depends on their giftedness and experience as a student with us.

HOW: How do you get interns?
You make them!   As a student begins to excel in being FAT (faithful, available, and teachable) we start talking about how they could take more leadership in our ministry.  We have found, the more you continue to raise the bar, the more students strive to meet the bar.  Because of this, the standard of student leader has continued to grow.  As students begin to become Disciples we put them in places where they can influence other students and be Disciple-Makers (see attached).  By their second year as leaders they are often a key leader in their part of the ministry. They are the point person for it and they make sure to involve students in it.  By their senior year, they are killing it! One of our seniors leads our freshmen ministry.  He has a ministry team of about 7 student leaders who help him.  Its an easy conversation with him. “Hey man, how would you feel about getting to do this full-time, without having to go to class?”  It’s a no-brainer.

WHY:  You Multiply your life and your ministry!
I will warn you, it takes a lot of time to have interns.  At first you will need to teach them before the event, have the event, and then debrief them after the event.  You will find yourself teaching them and then teaching others.  You will have to explain everything you’re doing so they can catch the thought process on how you do it. It’s like doing everything twice. It’s worth it.  Investing in them will multiply your ministry!  After you have trained them and they “get” it, they will take things you’ve started and make them better.  I can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen this happen!  You want to be very intentional about meeting with them and coaching them through each thing until you see that they’ve got it.  You want to set them up to succeed.  Meet with them regularly, treat them like your successor, and give them the space to make mistakes and the confidence to know you’ve got their back!

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