Internship: Foundational in Pastoral Ministry Pt 1

The importance of internship in pastoral ministry cannot be overstated. While important in other vocations, internship in pastoral ministry is generally agreed upon to be one of most important periods in the life, calling and professional matriculation of the minister. It is also foundational for establishing best practices in ministerial essentials. The internship time moves ministers beyond their undergrad or seminary degree and makes theories or learned examples concrete. Internship places students in real-life work situations with real-life co-workers performing actual professional tasks, which the job encompasses.  It also helps to establish healthy ministerial worldviews, creates a place to learn, grow and make mistakes with proximate feedback, and can be a real springboard toward excellence.

Historically, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has recognized the importance of internship for ministers, but the establishment of a cohesive or institutionalized plan has not taken place.  In 1926, J.L. McElhany, president of the General Conference, helped to formalize a method of training pastors entitled "A Ministerial Internship Plan." The GC Annual Council established and identified twenty-four pastoral skills which primarily focused on the internship level. A. G. Daniells envisioned this plan would close the fatal gap between formal education and practical field ministry. He also saw this plan giving ministerial training a rightful place for the denomination and in the eyes of young people.

In 1980, Adventist leaders recognized the need for “better training of supervisory pastors.” In 1982, one hundred twenty-four seminarians were a part of a research study prepared for the Dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University, evaluating post-seminary support.  The seminarians in this study, revealed their “greatest need was for supervisors who would spend more time with them modeling and training in all aspects of pastoral ministry.”  Also, in the same study eighty-nine of the responding supervisors desired more opportunity for supervision, modeling, and reflection on intern progress. In brief, most pastors desire to be mentored and coached, and it is during the internship when most of this takes place. However, even though the Church has focused on improving pastoral support, ministerial interns have felt what was being done was not enough.  Many have often felt neglected with the need to fend for themselves in the early years of ministry.

In response to this sense of feeling neglected during the formative years of internship, ministerial directors in the North American division have recently agreed and established an internship committee. This committee’s responsibility is to build an internship template so conferences will have a basis to help establish a thorough plan of support in their territory. 


Pastoral Continuing Education: A Literature Review” Andrews University by Sharon Marie Candy Aka p. 11-13.

Why You Should do an Internship” Queensborough Community College by Susanne J. Grossman