In the preparation time for summer, I get a lot of requests from college-age students who would like summer intern experiences. I understand why–I had one when I was in college and it was excellent learning lab for me. Recently, I’ve begun to think, “What if every youth ministry could experience an intern and provide training for that intern?” I know it sounds like big-thinking, but if I could help you get an intern to love and train and prepare for ministry would you be interested?

Okay, let’s be honest about the biggest snag–money. Right? You might be thinking, “Our church doesn’t even have a youth ministry budget…why would they pay for an intern?” It’s a fair question! But, why does the church have to pay for an intern?

Here’s the thought process that hit me several years ago:

  1. Our ministry can’t afford to hire more youth staff as we grow.
  2. I need help that’s more available than my volunteers.
  3. I envy those “other” churches who have interns.
  4. I think I could train an intern to do youth ministry.
  5. I believe there are several eager people looking for quality internships.

With that premise I then thought about all the models that God seems to be blessings out there that are staffed by men and women who raise their own support (i.e. Campus Crusade, Young Life, etc…). Why can’t interns raise their own finances to support their internship? Does the church have to be the one paying the salary? Why can’t the potential intern access their Christian friends to support them as summer, one-year, two-year missionary-type interns?

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Here’s what I’ve since learned—-they can! They can raise their own support. There are giving people from their communities who will “invest” in their future. Is it easy? No. No easier than the thousands of others who are raising money for their jobs at Campus Crusade and Young Life. But, it’s possible–we’ve had over 100 examples over the past years.

For the past several years, the student ministry at Saddleback has been staffed with people from all over the world who have raised their own support to learn youth ministry. What we have given them is a team to join (either junior high, high school or college), a house to live in (they live with families from our church) a community to belong to and training. It has been a great benefit to our church, our student ministry and to the interns as well.

Recently, the crew at Simply Youth Ministry has been talking about this entire youth ministry intern concept and how we might be able to help other churches with this incredible intern-benefit. We believe that we have some pretty helpful ideas on…

  1. How to attract interns
  2. How to house interns
  3. How to help them raise money
  4. How to train them (verses “use” them)
  5. How to create a win/win for them and the church

But, before we go further in developing an infrastructure that would/could service you, interns and your youth ministry, we need to survey the interest. We want to find out the depth of importance that’s out there amongst our youth ministry friends.

In addition to interest, what specific questions do you currently have about interns, human resource laws, training, etc… If you could list those questions, we’ll compile a FAQ and begin the infrastructure…IF there’s enough interest. If there’s not, that’s okay too. We’ll continue to charge ahead with the intern program that we’ve got at Saddleback and respond to those who come to us with questions.

I really believe churches could be healthier, youth ministries could be stronger, young leaders could be trained, teenagers could have more godly models and God could be honored. I think it can happen…but, it could be another one of my dumb ideas that have been such a part of my youth ministry experiences. I’ll wait to make my conclusion when I hear or don’t hear from you.

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