All Master of Divinity students participate in the two-semester internship program where they integrate intellectual and practical learning through theological reflection. For two consecutive semesters, students serve as ministers in a teaching congregation or other ministry setting. During this time, students receive guidance, training, critique, and evaluation from professional staff in their ministry settings. Students also participate in small groups with other students engaged in their own internship experiences.
Objectives of the Ministry Internship
1. To enable the student to grow spiritually, intellectually, professionally, and emotionally for living out his/her call to ministry.
2. To emphasize and implement the seminary’s commitment to congregational- and community-ministry-based theological education.
3. To teach students to engage in ongoing theological reflection as a tool for personal growth and the development of best-practices for ministry.
4. To introduce the student to the use of supervision and peer support in ministry.
5. To show how the merging of the stories of the minister and the system in which he/she works shapes the identities of both.
Ministry Internship Benefits:
For the Student, the opportunity to:
- Experience ministry and congregational/institutional life as a “minister in training.”
"The internship program was a lifeline during my first year of ministry. My practicum group and internship supervisor offered emotional support and concrete guidance which assisted me significantly through the myriad of “firsts” I faced. Furthermore, they provided clarity and strength through sensitive ministry situations that could easily wear down veteran pastors with no support network." Brian Harfst, Pastor, Orange, Virginia
- Learn to integrate academic learning with “hands-on” experience.
“BTSR’s individual attention within the internship program was invaluable. With the help of my professor, I was able to tailor a non-traditional internship that would fit my needs and help me explore my calling in deeper and more life-changing ways.” Jayme Reaves, Doctoral Student
- Develop ministerial skills and to clarify vocational calling.
"My internship experience gave me a chance to explore areas where I felt God nudging me. Through that discovery process, God affirmed my calling to senior adult ministry and to local church ministry. My internship opportunity opened doors for me to continue to live into my calling in that same setting." Melissa Fallen, Minister to Senior Adults, Huguenot Road Baptist Church
For the Church or Organization, the opportunity to:
- Invest in the spiritual and professional growth and development of a student minister who serves in their setting.
“Our church has had wonderful experiences with pastoral interns from Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. BTSR does an amazing job providing beneficial training for pastors who serve as supervisors and lay people who serve on the site teams. The members of our church who serve on Ministry Consultation Committees recognize the vital role they play in training a new generation of ministers. Our congregation has been blessed by our participation in the internship program at BTSR, and I would encourage any congregation to consider doing the same.” Paul Baxley, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Henderson, NC
- Help individual members and the congregation as a whole to reflect on their own lives and ministries.
“Grace Baptist has been a teaching congregation since the first year of BTSR’s presence in Richmond. The church-intern encounter continues to be a great experience for the church as it learns about ministry, invests in the lives of students, and blesses them on their way as they enter into a new ministry setting. One church member reminded me a few years back that seminarians teach us 'how to say hello and good bye.' This is a good thing to learn and practice over and over again as a congregation.” Betty Pugh, Pastor Grace Baptist Church – Practicum Group Leader and Supervising Pastor
For the Seminary, the opportunity to:
- Fulfill our vision of providing students with congregationally-focused theological education. We believe that theological education must be centered in the needs, mission, and life of the congregation/institutions our students are being prepared to serve.
- Improve the courses we offer by utilizing input and feedback from students' ministry experiences in order to.
- Connect in a personal way with the institutions we serve.
One pastor says, “Providing an opportunity for students to learn about practical ministry has been a great opportunity for the church to learn about practical ministry too. We’ve come to expect high quality, gifted seminarians and have rarely been disappointed. The church takes pride in these students and in its relationship to BTSR.”
For additional reflections from students and ministry settings, click here.