Small Churches Can’t Do Internships. WRONG!

images4-150x150Back in my Bible College days, senior year students had to complete an internship in a local church before they could graduate. The idea behind this was that the hands-on experience of ministering in a church would bring a balance to the academic instruction in the classroom. The student saw this as an exciting opportunity to “show what they got” in a real ministry environment. For the Pastor agreeing to take on an intern it was viewed as “cheap labor.” The larger churches in the area would pay their interns (though as little as they could get away with), which made these “paying gigs” the first choice of those looking for an internship.

Years later, after I had left college and was pastoring, a young, talented ministry student approached me for an internship. I explained I could not pay him with anything other than direct contact with me. We set up a plan and he seemed genuinely excited about having an opportunity to be mentored and trained. A couple days later I got a call from him explaining that he had decided to take an internship somewhere else. When I pressed him as to why, he finally admitted that this other large church offered him money.

An internship is a chance for someone to receive hands-on training, mentoring, and experience in a church setting. Small church pastors often think they can’t offer internships either because they are small or because they can’t pay. But you can do internships without shelling out one dime. You can do internships even though you pastor a small church. You can do internships even though you don’t live near a Christian College that has young ministry students. But first, answer this question: Do you have any of the following type of people in your church:

Older Christians who are retired and have some free time?
Christians who are currently unemployed or in-between jobs and have some free time?
Mothers with children in school who have some free time?
College-age Christians who are interested in ministry and have flexibility and some free time?

I bet you have some of these in your congregation. All of these might be interested in doing an internship. Some will have more time on their hands and some less. Some, especially those in-between jobs, might have to stop the internship mid-way. That’s ok.

I know, I know, you’re thinking, “Are you crazy…how am I going to find the time to offer an internship? I wouldn’t know where to start.” I understand, but if you are interested I can help. If I did it, and I did, then you can too. Contact me and let’s explore offering internships in your church. Internships fulfill our mandate to make disciples, raise up leaders, and delegate ministry. In the long run you might just be saving yourself time and expanding your ministry without spending one cent.