The intern’s first day. It’s been on your calendar for months now. Almost blinking at you with red, neon lights. What will I have him/her do for the whole summer? How much is too much? What if I tell them all I know in the first day and then having nothing else to share?
With anything, it is good to have a plan. Internships should provide on-job training for a future occupation. What type of training will you provide? Internships aren’t like what you see on the movies where you just have them take in your dry cleaning, pick up donuts & coffee, and answer all your phone calls. A church internship probably does not want to resemble the “Devil Wears Prada”. It should be more like “The Youth Pastor Wears Old Nike’s”.
Here’s a basic plan for your youth intern:
- Early Communication. Stay in touch with the intern from the time you offer the position to the time it starts. Begin to attach them in youth leader email updates. See how they are doing. Pray together. Let them know the “dress code” of the office. Fill them in on details they are wondering like weekly pay, lunches, and office hours.
- 1st Day – “Orientation”. Provide the intern with a basic schedule. Review the tasks that will be required. Take time for questions and concerns. Give a tour of the building. Show them how to use the copier, fill out reimbursement slips, and how to not set off the alarm in the morning.
- Schedule. Use Google calendar, or something similar, and allow this to be a collaborative effort. Invite secretaries, other staff, and the intern to join the online calendar. Put on the calendar major church events, service times, days off, and meeting times. This provides a great structure for the internship experience and expectations from the beginning of what the schedule will look like.
- Task List. Separate this into 3 categories. Daily tasks, Weekly Tasks, & Visionary Tasks.
- Daily Tasks – one-on-one meetings, , journal & reading. In the beginning, have them journal every 30 minutes of their work day. Then broaden it to an everyday journal. Provide 5-10 books that will promote growth in their ministry growth. Examples include “The Seven Checkpoints” (Stanley), “The Greenhouse Project” (Walker/Calhoun), “Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry” (Fields).
- Weekly Tasks – staff meetings, discussion questions, lesson preparation and execution, hospital/visitation, student discipleship
- Visionary Tasks – Big event planning, camp/mission trip participation, parent meeting preparation, youth leader preparation, children’s ministry administration
- Include a big event planning somewhere in the process – promotion, execution, even hosting, and clean-up. Experience with planning a larger event with you guiding the process will be a tremendous help.
- Exposure to wide range of age groups. While youth ministry is often focused on teens, many churches require youth pastors to have experience teaching different age groups. This means teaching children and even preaching to adults may be good to add to your task list.
- Journaling – this is a good exercise for the intern to reflect on their experience each day. The journal will reiterate lessons that will save them from heartache later in their ministry down the road.
- Teaching Opportunities. Take time to say “this is why we do this”. Ask questions that begin with “why do you think I would” or “what would you do if…”. Keep the training ongoing even in conversation.
This is a good start for your internship experience. If you implement this model for your intern, it should provide them with great training and experience for their next phase in ministry. Hoping this will allow them to walk away more excited about how God can use them in mighty ways serving Him.