Why consider a Ministry Internship? (Part 1): The Need
Recently, I had the opportunity to be involved in some interviews to assess, test, and encourage applicants for our ministry internship program Gospel Lab for 2021-2022. Our vision is to train 10 full-time gospel workers over the next 10 years because we are convinced that the gospel needs to go both deep and wide.
1. The need to go wide and deep
It needs to go deep in the sense that Christians need to be edified with sound biblical-theological teaching to live as followers of Jesus and so that the gospel is passed on faithfully from one generation to the next. It needs to go wide in the sense that the gospel has to be preached to those who do not yet profess Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Through the gospel, every Christian is invited to engage in this dual task of evangelism and edification! Yet at the same time, we are also convinced that God calls and sets apart people for the unique role of doing this in a full-time vocational capacity. This is why we invest the time, effort, and resources into training ministry interns.
However, during the course of the interview, I was forced to ask myself: “Why do this?” Ministry internships are challenging. A good internship will stretch you beyond your comfort zone. You will be tested in areas of courage, character, competency and conviction. You will be faced with issues like fundraising and vision-casting. You will be put in extremely difficult positions where you may have to walk with someone through grief, surgically apply the gospel through the proclamation of the Word and organise things that will put great responsibility on your shoulders. So, why go through all of this?
As I thought about the question, I remembered: “Ah! I wrote something about this years ago when I was a young man in the midst of an internship. So, let’s see what I had to say”.
2. The need to raise up gospel-centred churches and leaders
I re-write this with a deep sense of love and conviction that Malaysia will be a stronger nation if she is influenced by thousands of gospel-centred churches that are making tens of thousands of Christ-like disciples. As a son of the nation, I am convinced that what we need is not a political, economic or social reform. What we need is a robust recovery of the gospel that will move Christians beyond complacency and the status quo, and a heart for the lost. To accomplish this task (from a human perspective), we need more God-glorifying, Bible-loving, Spirit-led, Kingdom-minded, sacrificial and courageous leaders.
This is my heart. And I hope it moves yours. As someone watching the work of God in Malaysia, I echo the words of the Apostle Paul who says:
Timothy has come to us from you and brought us good news about your faith and love. He reported that you always have good memories of us and that you long to see us, as we long to see you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and affliction, we were encouraged about you through your faith.~ 1 Thessalonians 3:6-7
In other words, I love watching and witnessing what God is doing in Malaysia. And I hope that this article will serve to encourage you just a little more, to serve Christ and his gospel in Malaysia.
3. The need to assess and train suitable people
In many evangelical circles, programs like the Ministry Training Strategy (MTS) or Metro are usual pathways for those who have been identified to be suitable for pastoral ministry. For those who are less familiar with these programs, they are essentially a two-year pre-seminary (theological college) internship that enables candidates to have more hands-on ministry experience before they enter into three-four years of academic studies. The goal is to enable them to:
- Get a better idea of what full time vocational ministry is like;
- Formulate ministry and theological questions that they can wrestle with when they enter theological college (essentially turning ministry from something that is abstract into something that is real);
- Work out if full time ministry is God’s calling upon their lives
To be clear, ministry internships are not absolutely necessary in the sense that you won’t be disqualified from full-time ministry if you don’t do it. However, in the context of Christian freedom, I think ministry internships are a really helpful pathway if it is available to you – even if you don’t think you need it.
So, is a ministry internship for you?
In part 2, I will share more of my own journey towards doing a ministry internship and the fruit it bore in my life.
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Elliot is a pastor at GracePoint Presbyterian Church (Sydney, Australia) and an adjunct lecturer at Christ College. He is married to Sherilyn and they love the privilege of serving the Lord together.
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