Getting the Most Out of Your Church Internship

If you’ve attended a Christian university, studied in school for any type of Christian ministry, or have worked for a church for any length of time, you’ve undoubtedly gone through a period of time most people refer to as an internship.

Internships are meant to be fertile ground for getting a person’s feet not just wet, but drowned, in the water of a specific field of work. Based on many conversations I’ve had it seems quite common for an intern to have a poor enough experience that they leave this field of work and study for good.

Interns are notorious for complaining about the work environment they are thrust into, and now there’s a stigma that comes along with internships. Internships have become synonymous for underpaid (or unpaid), overworked, undervalued, or the worst…personal assistant to the boss.

But I wonder if maybe we’ve lost sight of a key factor in internships. Maybe the intern doesn’t know the vital pieces to getting something out of their time in the internship.

Follow Before You Lead

I honestly do not think it’s possible to know how to lead well without first following. It’s common to become frustrated by the leaders above you, as an intern, but remember, you will have plenty of years as the leader. Cherish the moments when you get to learn from the leader instead of having to be one all the time.

Prove Yourself Without Proving Yourself

If you just aim to prove yourself, everyone you work and serve with will come to know you as someone who tries too hard. In a church context your desire should always be to serve God and the people you interact with. If you serve well you will prove yourself, without ever focusing on proving yourself.

Ask Good Questions

Part of the reason some interns walk away from their internship experience with little gained in the process, is because they did not ask good questions. Not a question like, “how was your day?” But instead questions like, “What’s the single biggest factor in your success” or “What are some things I can work at to become better?” Those are the kind of questions that will lead to you being stretched, and in turn, growing, throughout your internship experience.

You Work With Humans Not Robots

No one around you will ever be perfect. Stop placing the kind of demands on them that no one can reach. The people you work and serve with have bad days and lives at home that they’re constantly juggling. Don’t underestimate the power of actually caring about them as people.

Those of you with an experience (good or bad), please share about it in the comments.

What could you have done better as the intern?

What do you wish you would have known then that you learned later?