Knute Larson, Jeff Bogue, and Jim Brown talk about how to help interns and young people who are on church staff.
This song is not about us . . .
. . . and we know that. We are not so vain.
It is about the Great Command and the Great Commission for the church. It is about our training and discipling people who will lead and serve the body of Christ.
And that involves a whole lot of ministries, programs, and personal time. It also should involve some direct, intelligent, and intentional training of the young to help right now, but also to be the main leaders of the future.
We can all have a part in that.
So this month we share ideas about teaming with the young to help all ages—to build the church now and tomorrow.
Please do not let this be for the bigger church, or the one down the street, or for yourself someday when you’re older. Please do not sing solos. Please learn the beautiful motto, “I do, we do, you do, ” as a key to equipping the young for ministry in the church.
This song is about Jesus, the Lord of the church, who calls the young, and asks us to help.
Grateful for the ones who helped us,
Knute, with Jeff and Jim
Watch the video
Is this a subject only for medium or large churches?
- Absolutely not. I would encourage every church to do their best to have an intern or young person on staff. This is a great way to help churches get extra staffing, even if you help that young person go to school and he or she interns with you.
- There are many creative ways to help them, embrace them, and have them benefit from the church’s ministry as well.
- No, every church has the opportunity to raise up future church leaders.
- The Bible is loaded with examples of teens being used by God: David, Daniel, Joseph, kings of Israel, and Mary, among others.
- Paul set the example with young Timothy and encouraged others to not look down on him because he was young.
- The majority of church leaders today have been raised in and trained by small churches.
- All size church leaders can develop a mindset to “give themselves away” by taking someone with them as they do ministry.
- No, please. Certainly that feeling is common, but some of the best examples of pastoral skill and love are pastors in smaller churches. They can model and teach that.
- This is also a subject for seminaries and Christian colleges, and most are making a way for students to serve in and learn from churches of all sizes as they study.
- There are creative ways to overcome the financial barriers: foundation sponsorship, large donor involvement, special fundraising, family involvement, and cooperation with businesses in the church.
What kinds of roles can we entrust to younger leaders?
- A lot of that depends on the person. We should entrust them with as much as their maturity allows.
- If they are humble, teachable, and eager to learn, I tend to entrust them with more.
- If they are a know-it-all or don’t have the time to embrace what is given, we should trust them with less.
- We look at the persons and give them as much as they are willing to handle.
- Roles where they work alongside their mentor.
- The sky is the limit depending upon their skills and talents.
- Always be sensitive to opposite-sex situations and make sure they are not left alone.
- They can research, teach, and administrate in many settings.
- We actually believe a well-rounded understanding of all aspects of ministry is important for them to be involved in.
- In many ways; they can teach, mentor, or assist in ministries with people younger than they are.
- Music and worship, tech ministries, building and administrative services, office work, assimilation issues—these do not require trained Bible teachers, but do provide exposure to church life and ministries.
- “Assistant to” pastors and ministry leaders. This is a great way to learn ministry while studying it.
- Sitting in on staff meetings, board meetings, planning teams—previously pledging confidentiality and cooperative attendance.
Let’s hear some success stories.
- Actually, a large portion of the staff of Grace Church of Greater Akron has come through our internship programs. I can point to seven or eight of our pastors who either came through our internship program or an internship program from a large church near us. We try to make this our main source of staffing.
- I am one of them. I was mentored by an assistant pastor who poured into me weekly, and helped me to lead a college and career group. I taught him how to play golf and he taught me how to study the Bible and lead others. It was during those years that God began a work in my heart and I received the call from God to pursue ministry full-time. It was a church of less than 150.
- Another young man interned with us from a broken home, enrolled in college, served with our teens, and is now a family and discipleship pastor.
- We have tons of stories of people being trained and sent out.
- A young lady who was raised in our teen ministry and was a teen leader is now a missionary on a college campus.
- We have missionaries in remote Muslim countries and pastors in urban cities who started in our church.
- We have a young man now who is interning with our facilities coordinator, with hopes of doing that role in a church full-time.
- We have graphic design interns who are now serving full-time in that role.
- My own learning experiences—if I can somehow come under the “success” heading—include: speaking at special events in the church from age 15 on; preaching in evening services when home from college; serving (at age 24) for summer months at our Harrisburg home church for the weeks while the pastor was away; assisting (at age 19) Ken Anderson, one of the finest writers of Christian films and literature, being appointed to his managing editor ministry later that same year; joining two older seminary students to lead a small country church for a year; serving two years after seminary with a veteran and excellent pastor in Wooster, Ohio. I am grateful and believe many of us can assist younger students of ministry in these ways.
- David Goodman, now president of Entrust, was an intern with me in Ashland, Ohio, as he went to seminary there. As that church grew, we always had one or several interns or “residents” (after seminary) who learned from and served with our people.
In Akron we had up to 12 interns at a time. We paid for their seminary classes and they gave 20 hours a week to the ministries of the church. Each intern reported to one of us pastors. Today, many of them are strong pastors, staff members, teachers, and missionaries all over the world. It is most gratifying to me.
And every size church can do something.
What are some other practical ideas about this?
- Offer partial scholarships to college. If you look at an 18-year-old and say, “I’m willing to help you pay your tuition to school,” you have a good probability of hanging on to him.
- The younger the better. I would much rather mold clay than chisel granite, and I believe that today many times we should start with the person fresh out of high school not the person fresh out of college or seminary.
- Use education flexibility to your advantage. Rarely do people need to go to a residential college or residential seminary anymore, so use that and say: “You can work with us while you go to school—kill two birds with one stone—it’s going to be to your advantage.”
- Be sure you have the ability to actually invest in them. Don’t use them as cheap labor. Give them real opportunities to succeed or fail as they serve.
- Know what to expect so you can inspect.
- Find housing so they can do life with another family.
- Build a prayer team for them.
- Lay out a policy and plan that will clearly define the role.
- Build into your budget money to bring on interns; your budget determines your vision.
- Give them stage time to develop communication skills.
- Love them, love them, and love them. Let them know that you really care about them.
- Give them time with you where you can pour your heart into them.
- Make it fun too.
- Give them places at the table at as many meetings as possible.
- Everyone in every church can, and should, be training and interning the younger, interested ones.
- Pray for such opportunities. Then look for them. Then set a starting date.
- Leak the idea now to your oversight board.
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Jeff Bogue, of Grace Church, in several locations in the Bath-Norton-Medina areas of Ohio; Jim Brown, of Grace Community Church in Goshen, Indiana, a church known for its strong growth, family and men’s ministries, and community response teams; and Knute Larson, a coach of pastors, who previously led The Chapel in Akron for 26 years. Pastorpedia is brought to you by CE National. Visit cenational.org/pastorpedia for more issues and to read the bios of our contributors.
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