The internship program has three major goals. First of all, we hope that the interns will finish the 11-month program having a more developed “theological and ecclesiological vision.” We believe that God has graciously granted us a vision of who he is and how that should affect the organization and the day-to-day and week-to-week activities of Clifton. So, we desire to pass that vision on to the interns so that they will be able to wisely, and over time, try to duplicate the vision wherever the Lord calls them in the future. Second, since we know that ministry involves many skills—from being able to talk to people, to knowing how to sensitively minister to a grieving family, to being able to perform a funeral, and everything else!—we will try to give the interns as many opportunities in these “nuts and bolts” areas of ministry as possible. With feedback from the elders and church members, we hope that this will foster better skills within the interns. Third, knowing that Scripture places the highest premium on a minister’s character, we will encourage his growth in personal holiness, in integrity in his relationships, and in God-honoring sacrificial love for his family through the time in the internship.
We know that the only one who can accomplish these aggressive goals is our sovereign Lord. So, ultimately we know that only the Lord’s mercy will ultimately make the internship a “success.” Nonetheless we will try to incorporate numerous intern tasks to try to accomplish our three major goals. These will include weekly reading of ecclesiological materials followed by discussion. We believe that this church-based, elder-led discussion will help to supplement seminary and Bible college training. Interns will also regularly serve in the church office, which we believe will be invaluable in helping them to understand how to minister in practice in a local church. To further aid the development of real-life, church-based ministry skills, we hope to incorporate several other learning opportunities: “shadowing” an elder in his regular ministry among the body at Clifton, interviewing the ministry leaders in our church and serving in select ministries over the course of the internship, aiding various deacons in their ministries, being involved in regular church-based outreach in the community, sitting in on elders’ meetings, visiting homebound members of Clifton, gaining experience in Clifton’s philosophy and practice of gospel-centered counseling, participating in the weekly men’s leadership training sessions, being part of an interns’ family small group, and traveling to at least a couple of out-of-town events as a group in order both to learn and also to evaluate the teaching as a group.
Additionally, our hope is that interns will leave the internship program with a “portfolio” to aid them in future ministry and even in seeking future ministry positions. This portfolio will include a statement of the intern’s understanding of his call to ministry, a personal statement of doctrinal belief, a statement of his philosophy of ministry, a statement of his understanding of ecclesiology, and assessments of his character and suitability for ministry from various elders who’ve been involved in his time in the internship.
This will obviously take a large commitment of time and energy on the interns’ parts in order to do the reading, participate in the meetings, and be involved in ministering within our body. We anticipate that interns should expect to put in from 15-20 hours per week, including “homework” and prep time. The internship will last approximately 10 months, from early August until the Southern Baptist Convention in mid June, with time off around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. This will obviously require adjusting most interns’ work or school schedules. But, we believe that the internship will be a time of rich preparation for years of faithful ministry in the future.
We are privileged to invest in these men to be future pastors, church planters, and missionaries as well as faithful husbands, fathers, and colleagues.