Student.Church provides congregational internships to students who are interested in a deeper experience of church life or pursuing a call to ministry.
Interns are mentored by seasoned ministers as they explore the breadth of congregational ministry through a variety of learning experiences.
Here you will find more information about the application process for students, the role of congregations in the support and nurture of interns, as well as CBF’s resources for walking alongside both the student and church throughout the internship.
Length of Internship: 10 weeks (this includes a required orientation and debriefing) starting mid/late May and ending early August.
Orientation: This event builds community among all CBF Student.Church and Student.Go interns, while also training and preparing interns to enter into their internship equipped with new skills and resources. Orientation is required. Orientation is tentatively scheduled for May 24-26, 2022, and will be held in person in the Atlanta, GA, area.
Debriefing: Students end their internship at a formal debriefing typically held at a retreat called Selah Vie. This experience is a necessary part of the process of transitioning back into student or work life. Selah Vie is being planned as an in-person event for the first week of August 2022.
Summer Finances: Student.Church interns are paid a minimum of $1200 (1/2 from church internship site and 1/2 from CBF). If the student serves in a CBF/GA church funds are added for the student from CBF/GA. In addition, CBF covers travel expenses to and from Orientation and Debriefing at Selah Vie and all costs associated with these events (if held in-person). The host church/site also covers housing (if needed) and expenses for all church-related activities while on the field.
Application Timeline: The application period for Summer 2022 opens November 29, 2021 and will remain open until all positions are filled.
Intern Application Information
Student.Church interns are characterized as:
Committed followers of Jesus.
Students enrolled in an undergraduate program and have completed at least one year.
Graduate students (including seminary students) enrolled in a master’s level or higher degree program.
Individuals who may not be enrolled in college but are at least 18 years of age and exploring other vocational opportunities through the military, etc.
Individuals considering ministry as a life calling who would like to try on a ministerial identity.
Individuals who love the local church and want to serve others and gain leadership experience.
How do I apply?
Begin by reading the Student.Church Internship Guide for more details about the program.
If you have already approached a church about serving as their intern, you will be asked to include their information. If you have not identified a church in which to serve, you will be asked to specify in general your geographical, demographic and ministry preferences in terms of church placement. See list of current known opportunitites below and check back frequently for updates as new church applications are received.
Ask three people to serve as references and have them complete the Reference Form.
The references should be:
- someone who has observed you in a ministry setting (ex. previous supervisor, campus pastor or youth group pastor)
- a trusted adult (ex. previous boss, internship supervisor or deacon at church)
- someone at your educational institution (ex. professor, advisor, staff or Resident Director)
Church Application Information
Student.Church congregations are characterized as:
Churches that affiliate with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship through financial contributions, support of global mission personnel, participation in CBF events, programs, etc.
Churches that are seeking a relationship with CBF by actively engaging in conversation with CBF global staff, state and regional staff, or field personnel.
Churches that are looking for an opportunity to mentor young adults as they grow personally and professionally.
Churches that are already in conversation with a student to serve as their intern.
Churches that are open to having an intern placed in their setting.
How do churches apply?
Begin by reading the Student.Church Internship Guide for more details about the program.
Whether you are a returning or new applicant you will need to apply via the Church Application Form.
If you have already approached a young adult about serving as your intern, please include their information. If you have not identified someone to serve as your intern, you will be asked to specify in general what you are looking for and the type of work the intern will be doing.
Churches may apply to host only one intern through the Student.Church program. After the deadline has passed and contingent on fund availability, additional interns may be requested/funded.
If you have questions about the internship, contact our team .
The future of theological education — what an audacious and presumptuous title!
When I was a kid growing up in rural Middle Georgia, I had no idea what a seminary was, let alone the purpose of one. When I told my pastor that I felt called to serve the church as a minister, he explained that I would need to go to seminary. All I knew was that it meant an additional three years of school after college, and that sounded dreary! Nevertheless, there was no question that if I wanted to serve the church as a minister, I had to go to seminary. And I am glad I did, because it is still changing my life.
Does Theological Education Have a Future?
There are many questions concerning seminary education and the future of theological instruction. Is it necessary? Is it still relevant? What exactly is produced? What does it contribute to the greater good? According to the Association of Theological Schools, enrollment in seminaries and theology schools has remained flat since 2005. In the last decade alone nine seminaries have closed, and many more are in peril (https://www.christiancentury.org/article/features/imagining-futuretheological-education).
Others have written about the formidable challenges impacting the future of theological education, including:
- Dwindling attendance in churches and by correlation fewer young adults expressing an interest in congregational ministry
- Perceived irrelevance or inadequacy of practical theology to address societal as well as congregational needs
- The cost of theological education, although not as expensive as many other disciplines, is nevertheless considered prohibitive to many
- Residential education — a person relocating to attend a seminary or theology school — is increasingly not sustainable or always practical
- The is integration of denominational networks, and with it the support systems that helped nurture callings and vocational formation
- The length of time to complete a Master of Divinity degree — typically three years, if studying full-time.
Of course, these challenges also bring exciting opportunities. Technologies are helping bridge the gap between location and education, and with them opportunities to prioritize communities of faith where calling and vocational formation often take place. Reimagining theological education alongside congregational ministry in its many expressions is centered on hopeful, future affirming faith.
The Quest for the Sacred
While I have more questions than answers regarding the future of theological education, I do have a few observations. There continues to be strong and robust interest in things that are sacred and spiritual. Just a few years ago, The Pew Research Center published an article noting more and more Americans identify as spiritual but not religious (https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/09/06/ more-americans-now-say-their spiritual-but-not-religious).
In my own experience, I see much energy in creating space and opportunities to explore mystical ideas, ethical problems, and in cultivating a life of meaning that matters. One small example: I was once part of a group that met in a cigar lounge — not exactly typical space known as sacred. Men and women of very diverse backgrounds, traditions, and beliefs gathered to talk, explore, and question. Amidst this diversity, all are seeking to construct lives that matter. This happens in other places, too, like breweries, pubs, coffee houses, as well as in sanctuaries, Sunday school classes and choir lofts. Churches must continue to reimagine how to “be church” in the future, but rest assured, “the” Church will go on.
Innovation, Dialogue, and Formation
I am not sure what the future of theological education specifically will look like, but I do hope it will continue to search for innovative ways to have meaningful conversations about things that matter. The world needs such conversations. Currently there are theology schools exploring inventive solutions. For example, the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky (BSK) recently received a grant for a project to help nontraditional students gain theological education while working in church settings. This seminary seeks to increase educational access for those already serving in ministry positions without requiring them to leave those posts and relocate for seminary.
This is not unlike what is taking place at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology, through the newly established Center for Calling and Vocational Formation (CCVF). The Center will undertake a two-fold commitment towards the vocational formation and calling experience: 1) to students preparing for their calling, and 2) to the wider Christian community through understanding and applying their calling. The CCVF will focus on the whole person with information and formation, not just what you know, but who you become. As such, the expectations are curricular and co-curricular for students and the wider Christian community engaged in lifelong learning. Inspired by the words attributed to Howard Thurman, the CCVF is asking, “What makes you come alive?”
Reimagining the Learning Community
Theological education will need to move from academy centric, to person- and congregation-centric, and discover how it can meet learners serving in their particular contexts.
Places like McAfee and BSK are trying better to understand and identify life-long learners responding to God’s call and needing to be better equipped to live out their calling. Theologian Miroslav Volf writes: “Academic theology ought to be…about what matters the most — the true life in the presence of God.” He continues, “the purpose of theology is to discern, articulate, and commend visions of flourishing life in light of God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ.” (For the Life of the World). To live a life that matters one needs a theology that matters, which is what must be cultivated with students, educators, churches, and other partners of the faith.
When I was a youth minister, one aspect of summer was serving. It was important for me to take advantage of the summertime when youth schedules were more flexible. We served locally and nationally. This is exactly what this summer was for our children, youth, and college students throughout Georgia.
This summer, four Student.Church interns served in four different local congregations. Seven Georgia-connected students served with Student.Go. (See article on pages 10-11.)
Lastly, eight CBF-Georgia connected students served with PASSPORTyouth and PASSPORTkids Camps this summer. I am grateful that these students gave their summers, when they could have been doing almost anything else, to serve others.
Serving is a huge part of the mission of CBFGA and of our churches. Many of our middle and high school and college students were given opportunities to serve in places like Miami, Puerto Rico, Appalachia, New York City, and with many local mission partners in their local areas. Many of our children learned about CBF field personnel during their Vacation Bible Schools while also doing mission projects together.
The experiences we give our young Baptists to go out and be the hands and feet of Jesus will help them understand how to be more like Christ and to see how they can be changed by going and doing.