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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Attracting Interns as a Church Planting Strategy

I believe that God has and is calling many people to serve his purposes in church planting today. This is true in my life and for my wife and kids. I continue to meet other people who attest to this. I am so confident of it increasing that I am planning to start an Internship Program early on in our church plant in Chicago. This will help those with a calling to develop quickly and begin to fulfill the purposes of God. At the same time it will allow them to build foundations in our church plant that will last into the future -- way beyond their internship.

Today I met with Lonnie Taylor the Director of Internships at The Journey Church in St. Louis. The Journey have been very effective at attracting interns and providing a quality environment where spiritual growth can occur. This pool of passionate and dedicated interns can often prove to be a base on which God calls full time staff members and people into further leadership roles. The purpose of internships is not a step towards a paid position or to guarantee a further ministry role, but to equip and release people into the calling God has over their life.

You may use the interface on the right to listen to the most recent podcast or download the mp3 of our conversation. It's about 55 minutes long, with a few interruptions from the waitress, and at a reasonable quality. Lonnie graciously allowed me to have a draft copy of their internship program and walked me through the process and philosophy they currently have. Please learn from this in any way you can. 

Interns for Church Planting Overview:
  • An internship is not cheap labor, it's about people fulfilling their calling and using their gifts in a way that "fits" the church. 
  • Find the interns "sweet spot" while simultaneously stretching them to grow. 
  • Every intern needs a mentor who builds with them relationally and modifies the format to fit the interns gift mix and calling.
  • Mentors evaluate interns at the end of each semester. Review goals, action plans and reading material. 
  • Interns are required to read one book a semester and provide a report to their mentor. This should focus on their area of service. 
  • Interns are fully self funded. They have a 30 day period before they are accepted to raise enough money to live on during the internship. This is not just a practical step but an important spiritual measure of the persons calling and faith.
  • Customize the internship for the intern.  
  • Allow new interns to enter at the beginning of each semester. 
  • Someone would be disqualified from the internship if they had the wrong motivation. I.e. they see it as a means to a paid position rather than a term of service.
  • Recruit interns from within the church and attract through web site. Internships are a good option for guys in seminary.
  • Whether or not you have a packaged internship program you will always have volunteers who serve and need spiritual mentoring so some sort of plan is necessary. 

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