When I was a high school student I was very close to my youth pastor, Mark. As it is for many students flying through high school, my life was frustratingly hard. Working with undiagnosed ADHD (the day I was diagnosed and took medicine was life changing) and anxiety (same), I struggled. Watching my family fall apart in front of me exacerbated that truth, and after a night of partying broke my relationship apart, I had one place to turn: Mark.
Mark led me to Christ at Schlotzky's deli on Pelham Road that next morning. Over the next year or so, I became inseparable from Mark whenever I had free time. He never shied away from telling me what I needed to hear, took me to places like Windy Gap when he didn't want to travel alone, and spent copious amounts of time helping me be more like Jesus. One early summer day, Mark said something that shook me deeply. He asked to meet before Youth Group and began telling me that at the conclusion of the summer he was moving to Memphis to start a new position as a middle school pastor. I didn't hear much after that for a few minutes. It hurt and I didn't understand in my 17 year old mind what was happening, but I knew that Mark only would go if God was calling.
After he answered some questions from us, he took me aside and asked me to do something that changed the trajectory of my life: he asked me to finish my first year of college and plan on coming to Memphis for a summer to be one of his interns.
I had such an incredible time as an intern that I went out of my way to take as many intern opportunities as I could. The next summer I was home, but volunteered with my old youth group while leading a college bible study on Mondays that blew up in the best way possible. The next semester, I was leading a student ministry with a college friend Brandy. That summer I did another internship with Student Leadership University in Orlando (learning experience...whew!) and followed that up with a volunteer internship with a church downtown as I finished up my college career. I wrote my senior seminar paper on the effect of internships in ministry contexts and after dozens of hours of research, found that interns, when trained and appreciated, greatly impact ministry both in the current situation as well as the future; in short, they are a huge benefit to both the intern and the church they serve in.
At Trailside, we have 6 wonderful interns. 6 interns who consistently serve, sacrifice, and relentlessly love our church and our city. Our interns all have a call to ministry in some capacity, and without them I honestly would have been sunk. Now obviously God is sovereign and in control, and sends the right people to the right place, but appreciating them and being thankful to Christ for His work in them is not separate from that providence. They set up, they tear down. They serve, they pray, they even GIVE! They are incredible.
Over the next week or so, I am going to share what I believe YOU need to know as you search for an intern for your own ministry. All of our interns are unpaid yet empowered, and are already proving to be leaders in their universities as well as amongst their peers, and I want to help you know what makes them so dang special, and what you should search for when seeking out an intern (or 6) of your own.
Keep your eyes peeled here, and I look forward to sharing with you what makes each of ours so wonderful...and no, you can't have them.