Are you a church struggling to find a summer intern this year or even every year? The Leadership Pipeline wants to give you some practical help, so we created this tip list on how to increase your chances of finding an intern. But remember this is no guarantee to find an intern only to help increase your chances.
Statistics show that the younger generations are becoming fewer Christians than the generations before. This means there are fewer young men and women who are considering going into ministry in the church world. In fact, we at USMB NextGen feel this gap is getting wider each year with fewer churches focusing on leadership development and calling confirmation the younger generations are looking outside the church more for their purpose. So we see the value in internships but also see the struggle churches have to start an internship program and then find an intern to fill it.
That is why we created the Leadership Pipeline. If you haven’t joined already this pipeline is all about connecting candidates and churches. The Leadership Pipeline identifies, invests, and empowers leaders for vocational ministry by providing ministry internships in partnership with churches and organizations throughout North America. But even the pipeline struggles to find interns since it launched last year in 2022, so we know that without direct involvement with churches finding interns, and raising up leaders from within nothing is sustainable. That is why we want to offer some helpful tips on how to improve your chances of finding a quality intern.
Create a Farm System (Raise Up Your Own Internal Interns)
By creating a culture of leadership development from grade school on up you will be overrun with leaders after 5-6 years! This means you help confirm the call of ministry in middle school and high school age and then provide leadership opportunities equal to their maturity. Then when they are considered for careers or colleges they can become interns or more. This requires shoulder tapping and not just looking for volunteers but actually allowing them to lead in areas that are vital to the church. By building a sort of “pipeline” where one person leads a small group, then moves up they are over several small groups (like a coach), then a director leads several coaches, moving up until they are ready to be a director leading whole ministries or programs. This kind of pipeline takes years to develop but pays off in dividends.
If you are looking for an illustration think of how the greatest baseball teams also tend to have the best farm systems under them. They fully invest in good coaches and plays in AA and AAA clubs they over so when they don’t have to recruit outside their organization all the time.
Improve Your Digital Presence with Your Internships
Feel free to check out the websites below as the ideal examples. We don’t expect your intern webpage to be as high of quality as them. But notice what they all share in common: pictures of interns, and group photos, they give an overview of what the internship will include, the benefits of completing it and more. The key is they are “selling” the internship like something special because it is. Your webpage or promo shouldn’t sound like “we need help!” but more like how it helps the intern. Remember the intern is looking for an experience that will help them later in their own ministry. So they want to see if you can provide that, not just they need a summer job. So try to make your internship webpage inviting, professional, and fun. This also means how you promote it on social media which leads to the next one…
Create a Dynamic Social Media Campaign, or at the Very Least a Post
Your potential interns are on social media so if your job opportunity isn’t you are missing out. Don’t put your church logo and then all the details in the description. Instead, appeal to what they will be getting out of the internship, or the impact they will be making. Keep it clean, simple, and professional looking. And then post it to Instagram and Facebook and then spend $50 boosting the post to advertise to the exact age or demographic you want to know about. Make sure you put where they are to apply.
And don’t forget to join a few youth pastor Facebook groups and post it there! USMB Youth Worker Network Group, Download Youth Ministry Group, Stuff You Can Use Group, etc.
Reevaluate Your “Benefits”
The days when churches hire free interns are over. Some businesses still practice this but usually, it leads to a future job in that company. The average internship is about 10 weeks. If the intern is getting paid $8 an hour (just above minimum wage) for 40 hours (full time) they will make $320 a week. Which means their entire internship will be around $3,200. So when you offer a full-time internship for $2,000 you are paying them below minimum wage. Most pastors won’t accept that so we should stop expecting interns to do as well. You don’t have to pay them as much as your lead pastor but this is a factor interns consider when applying to multiple churches.
To House Or Not?
Without offering a housing option you vastly limit who can apply to those who live close or already has a connection in your church. Most housing doesn’t have to include a fancy apartment, a church-family basement is more than enough. Consider this when offering an internship.
Have Your Church Sign Up for Handsake.com
Handshake is an online career management system, it’s where you can post a job opening like an internship, and hundreds, even thousands of colleges can see it. This has become the most popular website/system that most Christian colleges now use to post internship opportunities. This is a must. It requires proof that you work for the church you are signing up for so it will be tricky if you are a volunteer (word of advice – don’t use your personal email when signing up but rather use your church’s). Here is a helpful article sharing all about Handsake CLICK HERE.
Create Job Openings On Career Sites
Just like you are posting a job for a new pastor. Think of websites that are job banks both Christian and non-Christian. This requires a lot of time of course and also some funds for certain sites but also gets your internship more exposure. Again, don’t use your personal email but use a generic church email for signing up and responding. Here is a short list of websites we have used in the past:
- Churchstaffing.com ($250 a month)
- Youthministry360.com ($200 for 3 months)
- Slingshot.com (unknown cost)
- Christianjobs.com ($150 per month)
- Youthpastor.com (free)
- Ziprecuiter.com (extra cost)
- Glassdoor.com (extra cost)
- Indeed.com ($25 per applicant fully applies)
Ask Past Interns for Connections
The first year is the hardest because everyone is learning something new, but if you are having trouble with interns returning or getting new interns after a few years. Contact your previous interns and ask them if they have anyone to recommend or if they can pass on your opportunity to someone else. If they are hesitant this is a good time for you to take in their advice on how to make your internship better for everyone.
Develop a Strong Relationship with a Local College
Many denominational churches have colleges or have strongly tied to certain colleges. When was the last time you were on their campuses? When was the last time you talked face-to-face with ministry professors that lead students into internships? Maybe you need to start recruiting influential college staff for mutual benefits. Don’t expect the college, even if it’s your denominational’s college to just send students your way. It has become more complicated than that, so by building a relationship with the staff, you increase your chances of getting your Church’s name on their lips when talking about internships. And remember a strong relationship with 1-2 colleges is better than just a surface level to many colleges because students greatly listen to their professors on where they should apply to.
Like I said before nothing is guaranteed and it takes a lot of prayer and creativity but hopefully these tips will increase your chances to find an internship for your church for years to come.
As always if you have any specific questions or want to learn more about The Leadership Pipeline just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.