Church internships offer experience, chance to serve

Twenty BJU ministerial students completed internships this summer at churches both in the U.S. and around the world as part of the University’s Church Internship Program.

A long standing and core part of a ministerial student’s education, the Church Internship Program allows sophomore, junior and senior ministerial students to be directly involved in a local church.

The program was instituted in the 1970s and has afforded ministerial students with hands-on experience in a ministry. An internship requires a minimum of 10 hours per week for 10 weeks; however, students usually end up working nearly full time in the church.

From planning church activities to working in the nursery, there is a fairly lengthy list of activities that the interns take part in during their time at the church. The program’s goal is to familiarize students with as many practical aspects of ministry as possible.

Dr. Bruce McAllister, the director of ministry relations and overseer of the program, said the internships often act as a launching point for students after they graduate. Pastors can look at a graduate’s internship evaluation and see that he has had extensive practical training under a seasoned pastor.

McAllister also said students return to BJU after their summer internships excited about class because they have had a taste of the ministry and know that the information they learn in class will be vital to their effectiveness in ministry.

Junior practical Christian training major Josh Armstrong participated in the program for 12 weeks last summer at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Mechanicsburg, Pa. During his time at Emmanuel, Armstrong was able to do everything from helping with the vacation Bible school to working with the church’s bus ministry. The latter was especially helpful, Armstrong said, as the bus ministry ministered to an underprivileged area of the city, and he was able to see lives completely transformed as a result.

Armstrong said he feels more prepared to preach as a result of his internship. “Through the youth pastor and head pastor at Emmanuel, I learned a lot about how to prepare a sermon and how to connect with the audience. I definitely feel much more prepared for the ministry,” he said.

Learning how to do something in class is much different than actually getting to do it, according to Drew Redding, a junior Bible major. Redding interned at New Life Presbyterian Church in York, Pa., and during his time there he vividly saw the practical side of ministry. “It really taught me about the actual organization of activities,” he said. “[While] classes tell you how to do things, an internship gives the real experience. I was actually able to start a children’s program, which our church has never had before.”

More ministerial students will begin internships at local churches beginning this Sunday morning, Sept. 15.