My first two posts in this series highlighted the importance of hiring the right person for your internship and making the most of the internship experience while the intern is with you. This last post in the series deals with the most overlooked portion of the internship experience, namely how to encourage and mentor your intern AFTER the internship is over.
While the lack of proximity makes this the most difficult portion of the internship to do well, I believe it can also be one of the most rewarding. Being a resource, an encourager, and a listening ear can be incredibly meaningful ways to enjoy the “fruit of your labor.” Here are a few ways I’ve found to encourage my interns as their internship ends and as they enter the ministry on their own.
1. Monetary Encouragement
One of the best ways you can encourage your exiting intern and also involve the congregation in showing appreciation is with a love offering. When the internship comes to an end at our church, we take up a love offering as a way to say thank you for the hard work. We also provide a one-time scholarship gift of $1500 to help them finish up their schooling. These monetary gifts can encourage your intern and help them as they prepare to enter ministry full-time. Be generous and consider it an investment in future ministry.
2. Resource Them Like CRAZY
You’ve been doing ministry for a little while, and you have a plethora of resources that may help your intern get his ministry started on the right foot. Generously give your intern resources to help them in the future. When my interns leave Hazelwood, I provide them with a flash drive containing my computer’s “Church” folder. Every lesson I’ve ever written, every church graphic I’ve ever made, every vision document, leader document, administrative spreadsheet, and budget worksheet are on that flash drive. You’ve got a wealth of information, so don’t be afraid to share that with your intern.
3. Deliberately Keep Up With Them and Their Ministry
With texting, social media, and the Internet, staying up to speed with former interns is easier than ever. Go out of your way to check in on them and connect with them frequently. They may post a picture of their recent Middle School Retreat on social media. Like the photo and comment “Proud of you – keep up the great work!” That small step takes 10 seconds, and it will make their day. Write them notes, send them a text of encouragement, and connect with them on social media. By doing so, you will encourage them and keep the lines of communication open.
4. Be Available Whenever Possible
Accessibility is crucial to continued mentorship. When your intern calls with a question, texts you to say hello, or hits you up on social media, be sure to respond and to do so quickly. Let them know they matter to you, and that you are available for advice, to vent to, or just to chat. Speak at their retreat if they ask. Make time for a lunch if they are coming through town. When a major issue comes up at their church, you may be an important voice they seek out. Be available and you will have a front seat to seeing God work through them.
5. The Recommendation
Inevitably, your intern will seek your recommendation as they seek employment, or as they look for a new ministry later on. Don’t hesitate to offer your insights to those who may call about your former intern. You have done ministry alongside them for months, and you may be the best source of information for a future employer. Be honest about your intern and his abilities, strengths, weaknesses, and areas where he might improve. Your honest recommendation could mean the difference between a great fit and a dud.
6. Pray For Them Regularly
While this should go without saying, it’s important to lift up your former intern in prayer regularly. Remember that they are on the front lines of ministry just like you are. Pray for their family, for their ministry, for the balance between the two, and for their integrity. Deliberate prayer is a great way to remind you to connect with them in other ways as well.
These are just a few of the way I’ve found to encourage my interns after their internship ends. I’d love to hear from you about some effective ways you have maintained a relationship with your interns after they leave. Keep up the great work!