The idea of interns is not a new concept in our churches and currently, it’s a word that’s been thrown around a lot by the media, not necessarily in a positive light either.
In short, an intern would work and study for a fixed term, in a ministry context. This affords them the opportunity to learn on-the-job while also studying in that field.
I have come across interns within many denominations and ministries, but I recently heard about Riccarton Community Church’s prayer internship.
I posed some questions to Mark Wells, Associate Pastor at RCC to hear more about their heart, vision, and thoughtful considerations for this role.
Why a prayer intern?
"For some time, we have had an Outreach Coordinator who encourages, equips, and keep us (the RCC staff team and elders) accountable for our personal outreach and how we are doing the same for our teams.
"When we were planning for roles for one of our current interns, we realised that this model could be useful across different areas of church life, and at the time, we were hearing of several people feeling called to 'pray more'. This seemed like enough of a nudge to put some extra attention into prayer, not as a separate ministry, but something we wanted to give extra attention to across the church.
"From these strands, we wove together the project on encouraging prayer at RCC for our intern".
What are some of the expectations for the prayer intern?
"We wanted to get a clear picture of where prayer was happening across RCC, and how we could facilitate more people joining in and being activated, so we started with an inventory and then started to challenge people who were already involved—what would raise your personal 'prayer temperature', and how could you help raise the prayer temperature around you?
"This is the exciting piece—fostering the opportunity for a cultural shift rather than just a few bright sparks".
What gifting/qualifications/skillset/experience were you looking for in a prayer intern?
"Kavee (pictured above in the front centre) came with a lot of experience in gathering people to pray, and a willingness to ask questions and explore our church culture (which was also part of her study assignment expectation)—but ultimately it is this second part that is most important—a curiosity and willingness to observe and reflect on what is happening and ask how we could turn it up a notch.
"Of course, it is most natural to be able to ask this question if the individual has already asked this of themselves, so a growing lifestyle of prayer is a key requirement as well".
What leadership/decision-making is required of the prayer intern?
"The planning of the ‘next steps’ is all collaborative, so the intern doesn't need to provide the answers!
"Largely the intern needs to be willing to pursue people to meet with, listen to their stories, and help them focus on the role that prayer currently has in their life and ministry. Then coach them to ask the 'next step' question of themself and their team(s).
"Working out how to do accountability well in their context is another challenge for the intern to work through with a supervisor".
Can you describe the relationship between the intern and church leadership?
"This kind of project requires some freedom for the intern to ask questions of their leaders from a growth mindset—that everyone from the senior leader to the newest team member has room to grow in their prayer life, and how they encourage others to pray.
"This will require some grace from the leaders in question, and a willingness to engage in a process led by someone with little structural authority. This will tend to be easier in flatter structures, and less comfortable in more hierarchical settings.
"Giving the intern an opportunity to report back to the leadership team on the prayer inventory and next steps can be really encouraging as well as a great accountability step - and helps to foster the culture change".
Do you have any helpful ‘cautions to consider’ for a church that may be interested in the prayer intern role?
"This is not as structured as some intern projects, so negotiating a process will be really important, as well as having a culture and permission in place for the intern to 'lead up'.
"Also, it would be helpful to have a shared understanding that everyone is growing, and it is OK to admit when something as 'obvious' as a focus on prayer has been lost in a season of busyness or struggle—as long as we are willing to re-focus".
Thank you, Mark (pictured here with glasses, sitting next to Kavee), and the team at RCC for this encouraging insight into prayer internships.
I have met Kavee and she is incredibly passionate about prayer and mobilising others to pray.
Could this be something your church may consider as another way of weaving prayer through the life of the Church?
If you would like to know more about prayer interns, feel free to contact me or Mark Wells
Story by Prayer Coordinator Jackie Millar