Youth Ministry Internship Resources
I hear there are a lot of youth ministry majors at Eastern. How many students are looking for internships?
It’s true that we are a large major at Eastern. We have around 100 majors (plus first year students who are mostly not declared as majors yet). That sounds like a large number, but keep the following in mind: About 1/3 of the 100 are first or second year students, they’ve only taken a couple of courses in youth ministry, and are not eligible (or ready) to do internships yet. Of the remaining students, about ½ will do some of their internship time during the summer at a church or a camp. Of the 33 that are doing school year internships (the program that we get the most calls about), half of those are in their second year at the same location as they served their first year. If you’re doing the math, this leaves 16 1/2 students available in the fall to begin internships (and you probably don’t want that ½ student…). So, 100 majors…16 students looking each fall. Not as many as you probably thought.
How many churches are looking for interns?
Here’s another surprise: About five times as many churches and organizations are looking for students as there are students. It’s a seller’s market for students, who can look carefully at situations and choose carefully.
What is the purpose of the program?
The central purpose of the internship program is to provide a setting where our students can gain practical experience, put developing ministry skills to work, impact the lives of teenagers, develop enthusiasm and realistic expectations for ministry. The purpose is NOT to solve the problems of struggling church ministries. Given the “educational” nature of the program, each organization is expected to have a supervisor to work with the student (usually the youth pastor or the pastor). The role is to be a mentor and teacher. We look for supervisors who will invest in our students. Supervisors need to meet frequently with students, and fill out ministry evaluation forms to mark progress or issues.
What kind of schedule do internships follow?
As mentioned above, about half our students do school year internships, and half in the summer. Some students continue at the same location during the summer that they were in during the school year, but most do not. The majority of intern situations are either part time during the school year or full time in the summer. Many internships are set up in late spring for the following fall, though a few are not set until early September. Often students work in organizations that they have a connection with: the church they started attending as a first year student, their home church, or churches that friends attend.
What do interns get paid?
The majority of our school year interns do not get paid (though some get a small stipend and/or travel expenses). They are almost always working at churches and organizations that have a full time youth minister or staff person; our youth ministry students then have the advantage of working under a skilled individual that helps teach them the nuts and bolts of ministry. For internships where the student is the primary part time youth minister, remuneration in the neighborhood of 10 to 15 dollars an hour is the usual range, with 10 to 20 hours expected. Since they are college students, they need some flex with schedule sometimes (finals week, home for Christmas, etc.).
Do students do internships at locations that are not churches?
Yes! We have had students involved with Young Life, Youth for Christ, urban community centers, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Scripture Union, Amnion Pregnancy Crisis Center, and many other Christian organizations that are involved with young people. We try and direct students to settings that will help them fulfill their vocational goals.
Our church’s youth ministry program is in decline. Can we expect a young and exciting college student who our teenagers will think is really cool to revive our ministry?
Not likely. This is the most common question we receive in our office, and if you give it some thought, it is generally a recipe for trouble. A church that has a struggling ministry often has complicated issues to consider, and a 19 year old inexperienced college student is not usually able to solve these problems. (Note: we do offer some consulting options to help churches solve their youth ministry dilemmas.)
How many students could we hope to be involved in our ministry?
It’s not unusual to have one student working in an organization, but when we can, we try and place two or three in the same situation. The “team” approach is more encouraging for students, giving them colleagues to help each other out when necessary. (Note: this also further reduces the number of organizations interns are involved with!)
Is “Field Placement” the same as “Internship?”
Does distance from the Eastern campus matter? Usually, yes. Obviously, locations near the campus are best as many students do not have transportation, or they are driving one of those “college student cars” that already have 250,000 miles on them. About 75% of our interns work within 15 minutes drive from campus.
How do we get our church or organization involved?
Begin by writing up a one page job description and sending it to our office. Though most positions go unfilled (see “how many churches…?” above), we are happy to post positions in our office for students to consider. And you never know; sometimes a student has a connection with the location, denomination, etc. that turns into a setting they want to be involved with. If you have more questions, contact the internship director (Darrell Pearson) by calling our department administrative assistant at: 610-341-5964.
Each youth ministry major is required to complete a total of 320 hours (4 semester credits) of field placement. This allows students to practice and sharpen performance skills in the only setting where they finally count, in ministry with the youth themselves. Field placement credit can be earned through summer internships (see 315, 415), one year full-time internships (specially arranged through department chairperson), and through part time placement during the school semester. Opportunities range widely from working with Young Life or some other para-church ministry, to inner-city ministry, to ministry in a traditional church setting. Students must apply to the department to enter the field placement program. The faculty seeks to help students find suitable placement after they have been accepted into the program. Prerequisite: permission of the Youth Ministries program director.