Thoughtful Preparation as Hospitality
As an “expert” on your congregation/ministry site, you have the opportunity to lay the groundwork for a great beginning for your intern. Preliminary groundwork for establishing “right relationships” among the staff (both paid and volunteer), the student, mentoring/site team*, the session (or governing body of the agency) and the seminary can include some very simple steps:
- Communicate: after prayerful discussion and discernment with the session (or governing body of the agency), notify each entity that you will be supervising an intern. What does this mean for your time commitments in the life of the church? What can they expect from their time with an intern? What should they not expect? What questions do they have for you at this point in time?
- Select (with the intern, if possible) the mentoring/site team. These are 3 – 5 people in the congregation/agency or beyond who agree to serve as partners in the student’s formation for ministry. They should be selected on the basis of the unique gifts they can bring as mentors for this particular intern. They should be made aware of the learning covenant that you will develop with the student and be willing to meet with the student for feedback, encouragement and reflection on the student’s development as a pastor, educator, or leader.
- Get to know your intern (in as much as is practical) before their first day on site. What would you like her/him to know before they arrive either about you or the site itself? What do you want to know about them? An initial conversation about the learning covenant would be helpful for the student as he/she considers entering a new ministry setting. What are the major areas of opportunities for learning for the student?
- Help your congregation/agency understand the covenantal relationship into which they are entering. They too, share in the care and nurture of this pastor-to-be. Ministry doesn’t happen in a vacuum — faithfulness and participation by members and staff in the student’s formation for ministry is essential to the fulfillment of the covenant.
- Determine, in collaboration with the seminary, any financial commitments.
After the student arrives
- If the student is new to the area, offer to give her/him a tour: where is your favorite grocery store, the best place for pizza, who you would recommend for a dentist, health care, etc? In addition, make sure that the student has a walking tour of the site itself! Where are the nooks and crannies? Where will he/she have a space to call his/her own? What is some of the history of the building? (Some of this history will be shared by the mentoring team/site team, too, but they may have very different stories to tell.)
- Introduce the student to staff members. What does he/she need to know about their first day “on the job?” Be clear about time expectations and when the staff can expect the intern to be on site.
- Host a meal for the student with members of the mentoring/site team – table fellowship is ordinarily a non-threatening way for the student to engage congregation members in an informal setting.
- Establish weekly meeting times with your intern for ministerial/theological reflection. Commit to at least one hour per week for intentional conversation around biblical themes, pastoral concerns, and any other items that may arise as the student becomes more familiar with the congregation/agency.
- Prepare the learning covenant with the student: the goals should be appropriate to the setting and in keeping with the student’s learning goals. The seminary will be happy to share sample learning covenants; the students will receive orientation to designing learning covenants. Ideally, the learning covenant is established early in the internship.
- Officially welcome the student (and family) during their first Sunday morning in worship. You can find a welcome liturgy (adaptable to a morning worship service) here Litany.
- Ask the student to write a short introductory letter about her/himself and include in newsletter, bulletin or website; include photo as appropriate. Here’s a sample Intern Introduction Letter.