Concerns about youth ministry 'internship'
Posted by: Natedawg ()
Date: August 23, 2003 06:30AM

Greetings everyone.

For about 5 years, I have been involved in various volunteer positions with a youth ministry on the west coast run out of an A.G. church. About 3 years ago this ministry began what they called an 'internship program', which is basically a program for young people who have graduated from high school to serve in the ministry, find what their gifted at etc. I no longer serve in this ministry, as I am now in college, but I am still connected with many people there. Briefly, this internship program lasts about 10 months, with a cost to the intern of about $6500.00 total, including room and board. About 1 year ago, the ministry started a 'pastoral internship' as well. I have some questions about these programs, especially the 'pastoral internship' program.

The 'pastoral internship' is for those who feel they may be called to full-time ministry. It lasts 3 years, with the interns being required to make fairly serious commitments to the ministry. These interns don't have to pay, except for books, but they aren't provided room and board. These pastoral interns spend 50-60 hours/ week in the ministry, and some have full-time jobs to pay for living expenses. (Whenever I use word 'ministry', it will mean 'youth ministry' unless otherwise stated) One such pastoral intern I personally know (he's 22) has been spending at least 60 hours/week serving in the internship program, and working full-time to support himself (lets call him Chuck). Chuck was working in a chiropractors office doing something he really enjoyed, and was soon going to be making $50,000.00/ year. He recently quit this job, because he couldn't commit enough time to 'the ministry' while working. As I said before, the ministry provides no financial support for him, or any other interns.

A few weeks ago I talked with Chuck; he found someone in the church to take him in rent-free. He recently closed down all his bank accounts, because he literally has no money. He said he can't even pay for food, but he was happy because someone just bought him a week of groceries. He recently had to drive his own car to a ministry camp, about 500 miles away, and on the way back from the event his car broke down, about 150 miles from his hometown, so he currently has no car to use. Both his parents are trying to convince him to leave the program, but he feels a strong commitment to the ministry, the relationships he has there and God.

At a recent leadership meeting, the senior youth pastor was discussing meeting attendance as it applies to various kinds of leaders; he said that even though the pastoral interns have a lot to do, they need to be more faithful about attending certain ministry meetings, even though they already put in 50-60 hours in the program, usually in addition to an outside job. Many people have been questioning the methods this ministry uses, including myself. This ministry does not seem to like people questioning their methods. People who do question the leadership are often made to feel bad for asking questions at all, or just ignored. If people go to the senior pastor of the main church, he always refers them back to the head youth pastor. Chuck recently spoke to the ministry staff about a camp project he was working on. Chuck told one particular leader that the ministry wasn't given him enough resources to complete this project, and it just wasn't going to work. This leader told him

"there's a lot of people in this church, chuck and we can
either bless you or we can hurt you".

He was basically implying that chuck had to find a way to make the project work, no matter what. I would love to hear everyone and anyone's thoughts on this situation. Thanks a lot, -Nathan

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