How to Create an Internship Program in Your Children’s Ministry

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Creating an internship program in your Children’s Ministry is a great way to help people get ready for a potential career in Children’s Ministry. Most leaders I talk to LOVE the idea but few know how to put one together. Having been an intern and having had some interns of my own here are a few tips I’d like to pass on:

Identify the purpose of the internship
Training potential leaders and giving them experience to lead should be the main goal. If you’re looking to dump work on someone then starting an internship probably isn’t a good idea because having interns will require more work, not less.

Clarify your expectations
Not everyone who wants to be an intern in your ministry probably should be an intern. Know what it is you expect from interns and don’t be afraid to communicate those expectations. This will help you weed out people who are just looking to coast to get some college credits. Here’s what we look for in an intern in our ministry right now:

  • Someone with a big heart for God.
  • Someone with a “follow the leader” attitude.
  • Someone with a strong work ethic.
  • Someone who asks good questions.
  • Someone who is willing to learn.
  • Someone who will fit with the team.

Get your boss’ OK
Nobody likes to be blindsided. Put together a proposal for your boss and get their approval BEFORE you start gathering interns. Once he’s onboard it’ll be easier for him to help you get what you need to make your internship program a success. Click here for the proposal I put together for my boss.

Be on the look out for potential interns
Many potential interns are already in your ministry. Ask your high school and college-ages students if they’d like to get some more hands-on experience in Children’s Ministry. Let them know you believe in their potential and think God could use them in full-time Children’s Ministry.

Customize your plan to the person
Every intern is different. Customize your plan to play to their strengths. Be up front about whether or not they’ll get paid. Give them more opportunities to do what they’re good at. They’ll enjoy the time more and want to keep working with you.

Don’t give them busy work
Hand off big and important chunks of the ministry for them to lead. Give them some parameters and guidance, then let go and let them lead. This is always the most important and rewarding part of the internship. This experience will be invaluable to them and helpful to you.

Meet with them regularly
Find out where they’re winning and celebrate with them. Ask how you can help and pitch in. Be willing to share your feedback with them. They want to know what you think, so tell them in a helpful way.

Questions: How do internships work at your church? If you’ve been an intern what was your experience like?

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