Nearly 15 years ago, the Pacific District Conference established the PDC Board of Leadership Development with the goal of promoting a district-wide emphasis on developing young leaders. Since that time, the board, now called the Board of Next Generation Leadership, has provided the opportunity for over 230 young men and women to explore their leadership potential in ministry.
“The main ministry of this board is to encourage churches to identify gifted young men and women and provide them a paid summer internship experience,” says Gary Wall, PDC district minister.
The board supplies $1,000 sponsorships for about 20 interns throughout the district each summer, but the selection and supervision of the interns is left largely to the churches.
“We rely on the local church to take the lead in selecting interns that suit their local context,” says Wall.
Influence goes both ways
Sabrina Elenes, director of children’s ministries at Reedley (Calif.) MB Church has worked with interns several times during her four years in the position, but this was the first year she was a direct supervisor.
Elenes says that having an intern can be a valuable reminder of the hopes and dreams she and other leaders in the church had when they first began ministry. “Internships don’t just affect the interns; God uses them to influence those of us who are currently in full-time ministry,” she says. “We get to hear a voice that is current and closer to the youth than we are.”
This summer, Elenes supervised intern Maverick Howard, who had previously worked with the children’s ministry in a volunteer role. “Maverick is very enthusiastic, passionate about children, a hard worker and so ready to learn about ministry,” says Elenes.
After several years of helping with vacation Bible school and counseling fourth through sixth grade students at camp, Howard decided to explore ministry as a possible career choice and applied for the internship at Reedley MB Church.
As an intern, Howard worked with VBS again, this time in a leadership role as recreation director, and attended three summer camps. He also worked with junior high and high school youth on Wednesday nights.
In addition to working directly with kids, the internship allowed Howard to expand his knowledge of ministry within the church as he attended committee meetings, helped organize and choose curriculum and performed administrative duties.
Internships give practice in “necessary skills”
Elenes says she hopes that Howard came away from the internship with a greater understanding of both the joys and the difficulties of running a ministry.
“Learning how to plan a Sunday school lesson, answering and making calls to parents and not being afraid to say you don’t understand a task were a few things I had to learn how to do,” says Howard. “But they are all necessary skills, so I’m glad I got to learn them in that environment.”
Howard says that the internship helped him realize how much he enjoys building relationships with kids. He plans to attend Fresno Pacific University, the Mennonite Brethren university supported by the PDC, this fall with the goal of earning teaching credentials in elementary education and special education.
“From there we’ll see where and what God calls me to, but I’m excited about the idea of becoming an educator,” Howard says.
Gary Wall explains that while most of the interns in the summer program will not go on to become pastors, the ultimate goal is that the young men and women will develop their leadership abilities as workers for God’s kingdom.
“Our hope is that regardless of their vocational calling, each person will love Christ and his Church with greater passion and dedication as a result of their internship experience,” says Wall.
Jessica Vix Allen is a freelance writer living in Blue Springs, Missouri. She and her husband, Joel, are both graduates of Tabor College. The couple has three children.