It is a privilege to have a cohort of interns each year at our church, as they grow together and do excellent work on behalf of our congregation. We set out to hire our first cohort a couple years ago and we were not sure what God might do. When you begin a process to hire a cohort of interns and then lead that cohort through a year of development, you never know who might apply or what might happen. We have been fortunate to not only have great individual interns but great teams that work well together. On multiple occasions, I have found myself reflecting on our intern cohorts, and they are truly a highlight of ministry each year.
Through the year, we seek to invest in our intern cohort. Interns can sometimes be seen as only cheap labor, but that is a serious disservice to what an internship should be. Someone asked me about leading a cohort of interns and what I have learned, I told them that unless you are prepared to invest in people, don't hire interns. The jokes are too common - interns are seen as cheap labor. This is absolutely not the case at our church. Our cohort has done excellent work together this year, and they have served our congregation well. This requires a serious investment on the part of a congregation - one we are happy to make.
There are many reasons to hire interns. The list could grow quite long, but here are three reasons we hire interns at First.
We want to Develop Leaders
We want to develop leaders. Plain and simple. We are working to create a culture at First Baptist that recognizes growth and multiplication as Biblical values which must necessarily be expressed in our congregation. We want to help people grow, whether it is in the area of spiritual disciplines, care for others or leadership skills. An essential part of growing as a disciple of Jesus is multiplying ourselves into others. Paul exhorts Timothy, "What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Tim 2:2)."
As our congregation makes a commitment to invest resources into developing leaders through our intern cohort, we also communicate a commitment to growing leaders all over our church. As we seek to make growth and multiplication part of the culture at First, our investment into a cohort of interns moves us in the right direction. One of the reasons we hire interns at First is because we value leadership development and our intern cohort is a natural result of that value.
We want to Prioritize The Kingdom
We want our church to prioritize God's Kingdom over our own kingdom. Churches are unfortunately prone to be territorial and only care about their own agenda. We want to fight against that tendency in every way we can. When we hire a cohort of interns, we prioritize The Kingdom. On day one, we tell each of our interns that we want them to invest fully into our church throughout the year of their internship. Once the year is over, we do not place any expectation that they remain a part of our church. We want to release them for Kingdom work, whether that is in another church or another city.
We want to release our interns for Kingdom work, but is also a joy to report that several of our former interns have remained a part of our congregation. We do hope this is the case, because it is a sign that these young leaders are excited to continue investing in our church. Whether they remain for just their internship or a few years after, it is likely they will move away at some point, and our prayer is that the investment we made is multiplied ten, twenty or even a hundredfold for God's Kingdom. We hire interns at First, because we want to prioritize The Kingdom.
We want to Do Excellent Work Together
We hire interns at First because we want to do excellent work together. It is our intention to provide an environment that facilitates growth in each of our interns, and along the way, it is our expectation that we will do excellent work together on behalf of our congregation. I am not interested in having our cohort simply execute menial tasks in a mediocre fashion. As I work with our cohort, we want to complete meaningful work on behalf of our church, for the good of God's Kingdom, the glory of God's name and the joy of all peoples, and we want to do it in excellent ways.
It would be impossible for me to outline all the excellent work our cohorts have done. They have supported our partnerships with our 26 missionaries, they have provided necessary leadership for our youth ministry, they have led retreats, they have led worship, they have invested in congregation members, they have served the needs of our downtown community, they have supported one another, they have prayed for one another, they have loved our church and they have done excellent work together. We hire interns because we want to do excellent work together.