Two Cent Tuesday – Are You Involved in a Local Church?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of the local church in the life of the seminarian and plan, God willing, to write some posts on it in the near future. Until then, I’d love to hear about your involvement in a local church. I’ll go ahead and show my cards, in that I believe that serving in a local church is important for all believers, especially seminarians… but more on that later.

Till then, where are you?


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Ryan Burns
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  • It isn’t easy to get a job at a church, but a job or internship at a church reciprocates the class and homework really well.

  • I’m thankful for the internship program at Multnomah, and how God has placed us with our current church now. This first year of internship has been challenging and stretching, yet really healing; a very good process. It was God’s grace to receive a mentor who likewise attended semianry (and Multnomah specifically) and has a heart for our family. At our first weekly meeting he said, that since he didn’t have a good internship experience I was going to be the intentional focus of what he missed out on (his pastor saw him as free labor and the internship as merely obligatory and not an opportunity for training for a protege, and authenticity and humility on his part). A non-threatening atmosphere to ask questions, give suggestions and be known as well as challenged in Christ. Coming from a painful church leadership experience in the last few years, and not exactly fitting in here in our small town, this mentor-protege relationship has been key. It was also not accidental how their gift mix among the leadership lacks what my primary gifts can contribute, so the experience has not be frustrating. While we hope it turns into something more in the near future, this year has served to give me more of a passion for the local church, and how she can be better.

  • Jeff, that is really cool. Is the internship program mandatory? Do they assign you a church or do you have to find it yourself? It sounds like you are really getting the best of both worlds!

  • Just a Guy,

    Yes, the internship program is mandatory at Multnomah for almost all programs (and especially the MA Pastoral Studies, a 1-yr internship, or two semesters, in the 2-yr program; and 2-yrs [4 semesters] of internship in the 3+-yr MDiv).

    Plus it is given priority as an actual class, for credit (I’ll have 10 credits of internship out of 94 total). The research shows that American pastors and leaders tend to leave the ministry not because of competency issues primarily, but character issues. The internship is meant to move you towards the tangible goal of ‘getting a job,’ but that’s not it’s only function. Character formation is key, and I’ve appreciated the input I’ve received from my faculty mentor during the process, in response and through some frustrating experiences.

    In a given semester we actually have a few meetings, a term paper related to mission and core values in ministry and brief monthly reports to help us ‘process’ the experience. Plus about 7 times a semester we meet with a faculty mentor (in addition to our church-side mentor) and some other fellow students to reflect on our character formation, not specifically the nuts and bolts of the internship. Not sure what other seminaries do, but Multnomah has career center in the seminary, for placement, for connecting with church planters; they oversee the internships.

    Thankful for it, especially since I’d be serving with a church anyways — this helps fuse the two together.

  • Didn’t answer your question: Do they assign you a church or do you have to find it yourself?

    We each choose our internship, if one with a church or ministry (super)naturally comes to us. Yet there are dozens of churches connected with the seminary (it’s inter-denominational) from many denominations (and non-), so steps are taken to match a student with a mentor. Some of the internships are paid, but that all depends upon the specific church, not a requirement to get an intern. Many churches don’t get interns which means each student can seek a good situation for learning, maturity and identifying with their mentor.

Written by Ryan Burns