How challenging does an internship it need to be?
They need to have enough responsibility on their shoulders that they are having sleepless nights. That they are on their knees pleading with the Lord to give them wisdom and strength. Because if they don't have that then they are not challenged...
Somebody once told me one of my interns, one of my best pastors now, told me your leadership development is throwing people off the deep end. We had a good laugh about that, but I told them, yes but if I see you drowning I'll throw you a life line. But I won't let you drown.
Young people they love the challenge, and if they don't have a challenge they get bored very quickly and so we require the pastors to also care for interns and I oversee the care of the interns so that I'm sure the interns are challenged.
What does that look like?
One of the things we ask our interns to do is we teach them short term missions, but we require them to organize from scratch with no help at all from us, an international short term mission trip. We do short term missions in Kenya with them, but we require them to go off the continent of Africa on a short term mission.
They have to organize it; they have to do the communication, the fundraising. The idea is the one big last challenge, where they bring all the gifts and skills that they have used through the year; mobilizing people, and visioning, fundraising, planning, strategic thinking.
We want it to be a big enough challenge and assessed. Many of them have not been off the continent and so it's a first for them. And they'll go to India, or they'll go to some other place. They have to organize everything. We had one team that went to Albania and they forgot to get visas. So they got to the airport and they were turned down and sent back. â€˜Okay guys that's a learning experience.'
How many leaders have gone through the internship?
About 150. Some ended up as missionaries to other countries. Others ended up in Christian organizations, some ended up back in a secular career but with mission in mind. But quite a number are with us in our church plants.
But now we are multiplying interns, since the churches have divided up and set up their own internship programs.
With the churches divided out, we have probably ten interns at the chapel and each of these churches have between five and ten. So altogether now we probably have about 40-50 interns per year collectively. So the whole thing has scaled up by having multiple sites.
It's not centrally organized?
No. Each of the churches do their own thing. Occasionally they'll say, â€œI hear you are teaching on missions, can my interns come?â€ and so sure, they synchronize their timetables. We have days when we gather together. They have a session once a month, where all the interns come together and just share their stories and encourage one another.
There are a couple of policies: that is one and another is that we should never do anything alone. We should always have one of these younger people with you, even if it's just driving to a speaking engagement. Never minister alone, if you're going out on a pastoral visit, go with an intern, unless it's very confidential. Have them sit there with you even if they keep quiet and never say anything they learn just by hearing how the conversation is conducted.
What percentage of males and females are in the internship program?
It tends to flip flop. One year we have many women and few men and then the next year we have many men and few women.
On average its about 50/50, it evens out. Right now we're talking about diversifying the internship. We're now offering foreign opportunities for people from outside they can come.
Secondly, we have said that the internship we created was created really for university graduates and we expect them to engage mentally at that level. I just took the theological lessons I did, and I teach them.
But there are gaps in our educational system where people hang around with nowhere to go. One is immediately after university. The second is after High School. There's a gap there and so we're talking about having a teen internship, whose main objective would be evangelism and short term missions. Just go out and do it, you're not trying to teach them leadership skills, you're not trying to teach them how to run a church, you're just really exposing them.
Like YWAM or Operation Moblization?
Exactly. Shaping them, growing them, and developing convictions. Knowing that one day it will provide church planters when they are ready to determine their future.
There's another level where we're seeing, there are many married couples who would like to do this but they can't give up their jobs because they have to provide for their family. And so we're trying to slow down the internship and extend long enough that you get the equivalent of a year say over a four year period.
What about in the slums with people who have very little education, have you thought at all about leaders that come out of that environment?
Definitely. I think we have about fourteen slum churches. Their leaders have been grown up from an internship that was run in the slums by one of the slum churches.
They basically have taken the same thing and located it in the slums. They go out and share the gospel with unemployed young men hanging around. They require those who come to faith to move into a dorm setting with a team leader and for a year they're discipled in that setting. They are also being taught ministry. After a year they're sent back into the slums now to do evangelism and make disciples. Out of that system their leaders are percolated to the top and now they're the church pastors of the churches planted there.
Oscar this is too good to be true. Are you making it all up?
Yeah of course!