Churches typically looking for interns who feel a call to ministry

Leigh Ann Powell, left, director of children’s ministry at Mandarin Baptist Church in Jacksonville, says her church prefers younger interns because it can take a while for them to become proficient.

For many Florida Baptist churches that offer internships, the first thing they are looking for in an intern is a call to ministry.

Beyond that, church leaders typically have an idea of who their ideal intern is, but are open to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

At Mandarin Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Leigh Ann Powell, director of children’s ministry, said their internships are available for high school or college students but they prefer the younger interns because it can take a year for them to learn the ropes and find some proficiency. For many of Mandarin’s interns, their work at the church is their first foray into the work force.

“It’s a safe job where people are for you,” Powell said.

Beyond that Powell said they prefer members of Mandarin who are engaged and interested in what’s happening at church, whether they have identified a call to ministry or not.

John Rollyson, pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Marianna, said their church also places a priority on students who feel a call to ministry. While the interns at Eastside tend to be college students attending Baptist College of Florida in nearby Graceville, Rollyson said for many this is their first job as well.

Rollyson is glad to have the chance to help a student who feels called to ministry to get some practical experience and clarify what that really means.

Mike Reed, senior pastor of San Jose Baptist Church in Jacksonville, prefers an older college student, usually a junior or senior, saying that the maturity of that age group brings with it a readiness to listen and learn. Reed said it’s important to put interns in a position that aligns with their gifts and talents but that also gives them the opportunity to stretch a little.

“It’s good for college students to get a little dose of reality in an intern situation,” Reed said.

Mike Thornton, associate pastor at Seagrove Baptist Church in Santa Rosa Beach, looks for all those same qualifications with priority on one more.

“I look for a teachable spirit above anything else,” he said. “They need to be able to listen to people.”

Nicole Kalil is the Jacksonville-based reporter for the Florida Baptist Witness, the official news source of the Florida Baptist State Convention. She can be reached by phone at 904.596.3169 or via email at


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