JEFFERSON CITY – Last summer a Missouri Baptist internship program offered hands-on training in church revitalization for two seminary pastoral candidates. This summer, program director Brandon Moore hopes to expand the program to involve up to 12 interns and serve additional churches.
Moore is the director of Resound Network, a Missouri Baptist Convention ministry helping revitalize and replant churches across the state.
“About 40% of the churches in Missouri are in decline. That’s about 750 of our MBC churches,” said Moore. Through the summer intern program “we partner with DOMs and associations and strong churches to come alongside struggling churches.”
Moore, previously a church planter for five years, said, “I believe in church planting. This is revitalization and replanting—helping struggling churches find health and vitality again.”
He said equipping leaders is a priority for church revitalization. “We start with college and seminary students with a heart for revitalization and basic theological and practical skills.”
However, Moore is quick to explain the intern program is also open to bi-vocational pastors, retired pastors, and laypeople who have retired from secular work and are now pursuing ministerial ministry. The program can be customized to meet the individual’s needs.
Preston Thompson, Director of Missions for the Heart of Missouri Baptist Association based in Columbia, used interns in his association last year and is a proponent of the program.
“The program exceeded my expectations. The Kingdom was advanced through it. Churches were encouraged. And young men considering the ministry were trained.”
“I have only seen benefits from the program in my churches,” Thompson said. “The success of it has prompted more revitalization efforts in my association.”
Another DOM, John Vernon of the Cape Girardeau Baptist Association, agreed with Thompson that the intern program provided a real benefit in church revitalization in his area.
“We would like to be involved in this in an ongoing basis. I’m actively looking for the right guy” for 2021, he said. Vernon also said he thinks the program gives hope by demonstrating to rural churches that young men are still being called into ministry.
Wyatt Griffin was the intern in Vernon’s association. He was paired with First Baptist Perryville and Pastor Benjamin Chapman as his mentor. Griffin said during the internship he taught youth Sunday School, worked in the church’s community food pantry, and participated in First Baptist’s Celebrate Recovery addiction ministry. The last had a profound impact on him.
Before last summer he “had no previous experience or, honestly, even a passion for an addiction ministry,” Griffin said. “Along with growing my passion for revitalization, my heart grew passionate for the addiction ministry.”
He recommends the internship for a “young person who feels called to full-time ministry and wishes to gain some hands-on experience while learning how…to serve the church.”
Moore hopes to find 12 participants this year, which would provide two interns in each of the MBC’s six ministry zones.
The 10-week program runs from May 24 to Aug. 2. It includes coursework, classroom settings, and in-field training. Interns will be “paired with a strong, healthy church pastor,” Moore said. “They’ll see things done with a great degree of health and intentionality. Then they’ll get paired with a struggling (church) in which they can help as well as serve.”
Moore said the program includes Zoom online conferences with national experts in church revitalization and replanting programs, resource studies and weekly discussions with other participants, and regular sessions with mentor pastors. They’ll observe church meetings with leaders, deacons, staff, and committees; participate in generational ministry with children, youth, and senior adults; and, possibly preach on Sunday morning. Field work includes 15-20 hours a week with assigned churches needing strengthening.
“It’s a summer of working in constant ministry experience at the side of a mentor,” Moore said.
A $1,500 stipend—provided through the Cooperative Program—is available to qualifying college age participants. Non-college age participants are ineligible for the stipend but can serve as interns and benefit from the training. Seminary course credit is available to the SBC’s Midwestern and Southern theological seminaries.
Interested candidates can learn more and start the application process at www.Resoundnetwork.com/training. The application period runs from now through mid-March. Pastors of healthy churches with an interest in revitalization and who would like to serve as mentors can contact Moore through the MBC.