Here’s some more really great stuff from our church on intern ministry – I first posted about some of the backstory a week ago right here – here’s the first section of the acrostic I.N.T.E.R.N.S. – I’ll post the rest tomorrow:

Intentional training
All interns at Saddleback Church are engaged in a planned and intentional training program. This training gives interns an understanding of the church, its principles, philosophy, organizational structure, and mission. This also gives the staff opportunities to meet and develop relationships with the interns. The group of interns spends a day a month with a selected member of the staff, who shares his or her area of expertise, everything from personal life testimonies, job experience, lessons in maturity and growth, prayer and Bible reading practices, and more. One byproduct of an intern program is future staff members who once were interns and understood the organization enough to come back for more!

In Action: Interns receive extensive training in Saddleback culture every month from 9am-3pm. Interns are trained in PEACE, the 5 Purposes, SHAPE, the history of the church, life mission, worship, and even international Purpose Driven training. Group discussion from The Purpose Driven Church and leadership audio sermons prepares interns to understand the church, how it functions, and why it exists. Building and training interns results in them giving back to the church and kingdom in a meaningful way.

Network with other interns
Being a young, fresh intern among experienced professionals can be tough. The experience becomes much easier to process when interns are given a network within each other to journey through the internship process together. A monthly time with other interns facilitates growth and creates an environment of fun. These meetings are consistent, and the last one is a celebration of what the interns have achieved during their season at the church.

In Action: Every month, there is some gathering of interns to discuss, relate, have fun, or grow. Whether they go to lunch after their meetings or a member of staff takes them for frozen yogurt during the afternoon, it is a refreshing time for them.

Thoughtful observation
Sometimes the best way for interns to learn is for them to see how it is done. That could mean an intern sits and watches an employee do his job. If you run out of projects for the intern, teach him how to do your job! This is not wasting staff time; it would actually help the staff to define and refine the job they do. Interns need to see excellence at work. Show them health. Interns will assume however you do something is how it’s supposed to be done. You set the example of the interns’ first experience in ministry, and that will determine how they view and do ministry for a lifetime.

In Action: One day, a film intern watched a member of the film team do the final edit of a video. The staff member pointed out key actions as the intern sat and watched. The intern commented she learned more in that 90 minutes than a whole day of work on her own.

Experience-based learning
You are directly responsible for the learning experience you craft for your interns. The greatest lesson he or she will take away will be learning how to work efficiently on a project in the context of a team and an organization. This is not a homework assignment they can get done in an hour and a half. Allow them to learn through the tasks you give. When interns are given responsibility, results happen! It is a risk to give away responsibility, but more often than not, the return is well worth the risk. When interns are trusted like staff but treated like volunteers, they will rarely disappoint. It’s okay to give interns a new idea and say, “Try this!” The experience the intern will have as he struggles through bringing the idea to life will be foundational. And if it fails, no staff time was wasted. Your team of interns can become the R&D arena for everything you’ve wanted to try but never had the time or people to accomplish it.

In Action: Saddleback’s marketing video for the intern program was given to an intern as a project early in his internship. He was responsible for shooting, editing, and finalizing the entire video. He struggled through it, but when he left the church, he could say he did an entire video project from start to finish.