Home Youth Leaders Articles for Youth Leaders How to Develop an Intern Program

How to Develop an Intern Program

Once your intern knows the parameters, hold him or her responsible and accountable. If he or she is not meeting the expectations in the job description, meet to talk about areas of improvement.

Our present structure for accountability involves an evaluation after a designated period of time in the ministry (three months, six months, one year). We ask the intern to write a paper with his or her own summary evaluation of the internship, and the supervisor evaluates the intern.

Look Out for the Pitfalls: From my own experience with interns, I’ve noticed two potential dangers. The first is picking the wrong person. I once chose a recent high school graduate who was zealous for the Lord, seemed interested in youth ministry and needed a job. It soon became evident the situation wasn’t working out; in fact, the junior high girls she was hired to work with didn’t even like to be around her. I mistakenly assumed her zest and youthfulness were sufficient qualifications for internship, and was forced to terminate the arrangement.

The second danger is how the congregation perceives the position. How does the church view the intern? As an assistant to the youth pastor? Is the intern “above” the volunteers? It’s important to determine what the role means to you and communicate that view from the start.

This problem of perception is illustrated by a phone call I received one summer evening last year. One of the volunteers called to say she couldn’t go on the weekend retreat. When I asked why, she said, “Oh, well, you have the new intern; and she’ll do more than I could ever do.” During the next few weeks, I picked up signs of resentment from some of the other volunteers, as well. They had come to see the intern as my right-hand person and concluded they no longer were needed. I finally sat down and explained to the volunteer staff how I perceived the internship. A new understanding came that day; since that time, the internship has continued in a more stable environment.

It’s Worth It: Despite the potential pitfalls, an intern program is one of the best ways to get people exposed to and involved in youth ministry. Its benefits have been evident not only in our own experience, but also in other churches. The youth, the parents and the entire congregation benefit from a solid intern program. I strongly recommend that you consider developing an internship to enrich your program, extend your outreach and deepen your church’s commitment to an effective youth program.