Oct 22, 2018
How Internships Have Helped Us Multiply Ministry
Chris Millar writes about how developing an internship program has helped their ministry to multiply their impact at Sam Houston State University.
In 1972, East Huntsville Baptist Church strategically and providentially moved right next to the campus of Sam Houston State University and became University Heights Baptist Church. What began as a home group Bible study for a wood mill community, would eventually become a multigenerational church that serves as a bridge between the community and the campus. With college students now making up close to one third of our church, we are eager to continue learning how to most effectively be church alongside of this unique people group.
Awhile back, we decided we wanted to be more intentional about training up college students for ministry. We were reading the same stats that everyone was reading about how many pastors are retiring or quitting, or simply “aging out,” and we felt like God had positioned our church to do something about it. We established an internship built for college students that had an interest in ministry, or who simply wanted a deeper level of engagement in the local church. We now have an internship process that is open for students in almost every ministry in our church, including preschool, children, youth, college, worship, and others.
Some might be wondering about what qualifies these students to be interns or how do they get selected. Ideally, interns at our church are juniors or seniors in college, and have been a part of our leadership pipeline for at least one year. In that first year of leadership development, they are being trained in our core competencies of discipleship and are learning how to make Jesus known as a multiplying disciple. These initial training steps have proved vital to knowing that when we bring an intern onto the team, they are trained and equipped to do what we are asking of them as well as knowing their resiliency when they are stretched into new opportunities and ministry experiences.
We have seen a massive return on investment, not only in our church, but in the kingdom. Four of our interns (myself included) have returned to now be a part of our full time staff, while many others have gone on to work at other churches in a variety of positions. Why? Because we were able to give them the opportunity to experience what working in and with a local church really feels like. We’ve created space for them to rub shoulders with multiple staff members, have hands on experience in discipleship, organizational leadership, and event planning. I know it might sound like we’re proud, and its because we are! Not of us, but of them! Our staff loves and values the college students that press in and decide to do an internship in our church and we believe that our investment is vital for the future of the kingdom.
Recently, the Lord opened a door for the expansion of our internship process by leading us away from a paid internship to an unpaid internship that can now be used for credit as an upper level elective course at our university. Let me say that again, students are getting class credit for working at our church! This might not be possible where you are, but this is proving to be a game-changing conversation starter with students who are interested. God has blessed our church immensely through developing this internship process and in many ways, it has paved the way for us to now cast a vision of moving from a church family to a family of churches. Our church is preparing to plant our very first church in San Marcos, Texas, with a desire to plant a multigenerational church that serves as a bridge between the community and the campus of Texas State University. I am fully convinced that this dream would not have come to fruition without the road being paved by watching God use college students in incredible ways through our internship process.
Interested in developing an internship process in your own church? We would love to help however we can!