Pastors work through barriers to effective internship programs

Seagrove Baptist Church in Santa Rosa Beach, whose children’s ministry is shown here, found that the difficulty for pastors to delegate tasks was part of the problem in establishing an internship programFlorida Baptist church leaders have long known the value of having interns on staff and those that do are able to extend their ministry reach while helping people clarify their call to ministry.

Yet some Florida Baptist churches struggle to know how to use interns or simply don’t understand the value they bring.

Jimmy Knott, teaching pastor at First Baptist Church in Orlando, said in many cases it comes down to churches just not understanding how to structure and execute internships.

Knott emphasizes the importance of investing in the Kingdom by equipping the saints. He believes that churches should be giving more time and attention to leadership development.

Knott said churches that are serious about internships and leadership development can easily find ways to overcome a lack of knowledge or a perceived lack of time.

Mike Thornton, associate pastor of Seagrove Baptist Church in Santa Rosa Beach, said if church leaders have had a bad experience with interns or internships, they may shy away from incorporating interns into the ministries of the church.

But Thornton said a bigger obstacle for many pastors is an inability to delegate.

It’s an issue Thornton had to work through himself.

“We as pastors tend to have an issue with delegation or letting others take over,” he said. “Even when I had interns at times I felt like I had to do it all.”

The other issue Thornton sees as an obstacle to some churches when it comes to providing internships is a lack of time. Interns require mentoring in order to have their best chance to succeed.

If you’re too busy, you won’t be able to effectively teach them, Thornton said.

Mike Reed, lead pastor of San Jose Baptist Church in Jacksonville, sees leadership development as a priority but also sees where his church can do more.

“My greatest regret is that we did not develop something or have not developed it to where it should be,” he said.

Reed would like to have a staff ambassador who could work to establish relationships with colleges or organizations that could serve as a leadership pipeline where interns could be identified and then developed effectively for ministry.

Intentionality is key when it comes to incorporating interns into the church staff.  While it can take additional planning, time and attention, the investment will never come back empty.

“Anywhere we can model for young people how ministry should be done, give them responsibility and help them prepare for the future, it’s such a good thing to implement,” Reed said.

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 nicole.kalil@goFBW.com

 

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