by Jason Sansbury
Click here to read the companion to this article, How2: Hire Summer Interns for Your Ministry.
Once you have hired someone for the role of intern, there is still work to do! Here are some ways to get the most out of a summer intern for your ministry, as well as benefit the intern the most.
More than once I have had a ministry friend call me halfway through the summer and say, “I hired the intern but I don’t know what to do with him!” Take the time to really figure out some of the ways an intern can be beneficial to your youth group. Here are some of the specifics that we ask of our summer interns at my own church:
Make sure you are prepared with things like housing, office supplies, and a space to work in. When an intern shows up, you want him to know that you take him seriously by being prepared for his arrival. When an intern shows up and you are shoving stuff into a pile to create a small space for her to work in, it says you don’t value her. Rightly or wrongly, you want to set the tone with a great first impression.
Help your interns know and understand your church’s child protection policies. Walk them through various scenarios and how you expect them to react and deal with those instances. With our ministry’s interns, after teaching them these policies, I explain that any violation of them is grounds for immediate dismissal, no questions asked. Most of your summer interns will have never been around these kinds of policies and for their safety and yours, you need to express these policies ahead of time and train them well.
Handle the paperwork. There are tax forms, human resource issues, etc. that all need to be handled. Do that the first day. Additionally, you want to make sure you and your leadership have emergency contact numbers for your intern’s parents, etc. in case there ever is an emergency.
If the only one who benefits from the internship is you as the leader, you are missing the opportunity to invest in the next generation of ministry leaders. To put it another way, if the only benefit the intern gets is a salary, you are doing it wrong. Here are some ways to invest in your intern:
If you have made a good hire, interns are going to be a part of shaping your youth ministry. Spend time at the close of their time in your ministry celebrating with them privately the ways you have seen them grow and lead. Also make sure that your students and leaders have a time to celebrate and affirm them as well. None of our interns at my current church have come from within our faith community. Yet at the end of their summer with us, we celebrate that they are a part of who we are by praying for them and sending them out into ministry! That affirmation has been one of the most meaningful parts of the summer for every intern we have had. So work hard to end the internship as well as you started the whole process of looking for and hiring them!
Jason Sansbury is the youth minister at Belle Meade United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tenn. Previously, Jason has served churches in Franklin, Tenn. and Georgia and has been on staff with YoungLife. Additionally, Jason was one of the founding partners of Crossed-Up Ministries, a ministry specializing in putting together large worship events for youth groups. He has a heart for helping young people find their call into ministry and succeeding early in their ministry and careers. For fun, Jason loves movies, music, and television. He is a fount of useless pop culture trivia and dreams of being a winner on the TV show Jeopardy.
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We’ve created a Pandemic Youth Week curriculum bundle that combines elements of both a summer camp and a youth week. Many youth are missing out on both of these due to cancelled camps and trips among other cancelled important events your youth would usually attend. We’ve written this curriculum such that it can be used in person while socially distancing, online, or some combination of both.
Despite all the challenges the pandemic has presented to youth ministries, it has also created an opportunity to allow youth more involvement in worship. Although youth sunday will look very different this year, it is a great opportunity to empower our youth to be leaders. Youth’s comfort and familiarity with technology make them a great resource for churches who are seeking to move their worship services online for the first time.