|INTERNSHIPS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
So, you're thinking about setting up some kind of training program to help some people in your church prepare for vocational ministry? Welcome to our little starter kit. We hope it will be helpful to you in thinking through setting up a training program.
The most important thing to understand when starting to use this resource kit is that it is not a recipe. It is, at most, an incomplete list of ingredients. This is not a ready made-internship program kit. You will want to add, subtract, and adapt these materials to fit your own church context. And so, as you get started, do everything you can to keep an open mind and brainstorm as you look at these resources. Dream. Dream big. Cast a vision for what training could be in your church.
We've put these materials together through years of experimentation. If you want to see more of how it has been implemented in the real world, visit Holy Trinity Church. It is the laboratory in which these materials have been developed. Also, much of the content of the "classroom section" about which you will read, has been tested in the Simeon Course on Biblical Exposition. Give it a look.
You should also know that you are not alone. There are other churches with training programs. There are other organizations that specialize in helping churches set up training programs. We would be very eager to have a conversation with you, to consult with you as you think through and begin implementing a training strategy. Whether your questions are about these resources, or about concepts, or if you want to share your experience so that we can better our work in helping churches think through training, always feel free to contact us. Seriously.
Because this isn't a ready-made training course, you might want to start by asking yourself some important questions. When we talk to people about training, they almost always start with "how." "How" would you go about it? This is a good question. But, let's start with a few questions that people don't normally ask.
|WHAT?||Or maybe this question should really be "why?" What are you hoping to accomplish with this training program? What kind of people are you trying to produce? These are important questions. For us, the critical thing is, and always has been, biblical exposition. We can't think of anything more critical, more fundamental, for anyone who is going to be leading in ministry. A lot of people focus on other things because seminaries will teach students how to 'handle the Bible rightly.' Other training programs will pay some attention to it, but treat it as one of many things they hope to accomplish. We would challenge you to make it the central thing that defines your training program. Other skills and experiences will come from 'life together in ministry.' But if your students have not the capacity or the instincts to relate everything they do back to the revealed Word of God, then the Gospel will be lost. The hard questions will remain unanswered. And ministries may grow, but they will never mature. So, ask yourself: "what are we trying to accomplish with this training program?"
|WHO?||There are really two "who" questions. You should be thinking about who should lead the training and who should be trained.
A lot of churches appoint the new pastor, fresh from seminary, to lead the training program. This is certainly pragmatic and we find it easy to sympathize. Established and experienced pastors in churches tend to have already accumulated very full ministry portfolios. Committing to developing a structure for training other leaders may just seem too daunting. Making it someone else's responsibility is a very easy thing to do. But, insofar as your training program is going to include elements of mentorship and modelling, implicit and explicit, who do you want your students emulating? Who has the experience in leading ministry in your church? Who can handle the hard questions? Who has a lifetime of service and experience and Godliness behind them that would be worth trying to recreate? My guess is, it is not the newest young pastor on the staff who just finished seminary. So, ask yourself: "who is going to be the best ministry model for our students in training?"
As for "who" should be trained, you will need to look around your church. Our Aussie friends have a phrase for the candidates they observe who might be recruited for their pastoral training programs: "blokes worth watching." This is their way of describing a person who is keen about the Bible, has some capacity to teach it and also lead in ministry, and will rise to the challenge of being trained. In fact, those are three pretty good criteria. But the fact of the matter is, you will have to know the people in your church well enough to know who is worth your time in training. So, pay attention.
|HOW?||Once you have tackled these questions, you can now begin to ask the questions about how to structure your program, what to include, and what not to include. The resources in this kit are really all aimed at helping you begin to shape your training strategy. So, let's look at the basic concepts that might prove useful as you create.|