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Tailor-made Internship Helps Church Develop Leaders from Within Own Congregation

Developing future leaders from within their congregation has led one church to developing a tailor-made internship program and other group leadership trainings designed to encourage participants in the credentialing process.
Neither Rob Boyd nor his wife, Lisa, grew up in a ministry family. However, through positive mentors both in their individual lives and as a couple, the Boyds have served in ministry for over 20 years, planted a church, and are now serving together as senior pastors and intentionally developing the next generation of leaders.

The Boyds credit all they have been able to accomplish first to God, then to the incredible mentors they have had along the way. Now, they are paying it forward by developing and mentoring others.

After a successful church plant and pastorate in Florida for over ten years, the Boyds accepted the position of lead pastors at Dallas Assembly of God in Dallas, Georgia.

With a passion for identifying and raising up leaders, the Boyds knew that they wanted to encourage anyone in their new congregation who felt a call to leadership in any capacity.

As a first step towards this leadership development initiative, Lisa started a small group comprised of individuals who wanted to be mentored as future leaders. This group read and discussed different leadership books and the Boyds guided the group through the Assemblies of God credentialing process via Pathways.

By the end of the group’s term, 11 individuals completed their schooling with the intention of obtaining their first level of credentials.

While the group was a huge success, the Boyds knew they wanted to have a more intensive type of leadership development program in addition to the group setting.

“As we saw our church begin to grow, we knew that we had to get intentional about raising up leaders within the next generation. This investment, we felt, was crucial to the future leadership of the church,” Boyd says.

While at a fish fry, just a few months after arriving at Dallas Assembly, Lisa felt her heart soften when she met Linnea McGhie, 21.

“Although our ideas for an intern or small group leadership program were still very unorganized, we knew we saw something special in her,” says Lisa. “So we asked her if she would just come help in different areas of the church.”

McGhie, who started attending the church when she was just 5 years old, accepted the offer and started as an unofficial intern two weeks later.

“I was 18 at the time and I had served at the church my whole life but had not held any leadership roles,” McGhie states.

As she started, McGhie did everything from cleaning bathrooms and helping with paperwork to filling in during services and developing the church’s social media presence. As she continued learning from the Boyds, they began to sense a pastoral calling on her life.

Within a year, McGhie was on staff and was launching and directing the church’s young adult ministry. McGhie believes that her individual internship was the catalyst that helped her jump into a calling she had not yet realized.

Feeling that this internship opportunity could grow to assist more youth and young adults in the church, the Boyds asked McGhie to help them put together some framework for continuing and expanding the program.

Jayce T. Cordell knew that she was called into ministry at the age of 7 years old. She specifically felt called to missions but admits that she lost sight of that calling through her adolescence.

When she started attending the church, just a few months after the Boyds arrived, she began serving wherever she could.

“I also did the CALLED  program and that helped me realize that I was still called to missions,” she says.

Her calling continued to grow in her heart and after a short-term mission trip to Columbia, she knew she needed to do whatever she could to get on the mission field.

“I started talking with Linnea and she mentioned that I should consider being the next intern,” Cordell says.

With added structure and experience, the Boyds launched a tailor-made internship for Cordell. Because they are aware of her missions calling, the Boyds have ensured that Cordell was exposed to all aspects of ministry.

“Every week, she (Cordell) meets with a different missionary and asks them questions that she has pre-written to get a sense of what real-life, real-time missions is like,” says Boyd. “She is also doing things to understand other aspects of ministry such as the pastoral care side of things and the office work that goes along with it,” he says.

“I’m really understanding things that you wouldn’t get to explore in a classroom setting and getting to ask deep questions,” Cordell says. “I am seeing that uncertainty isn’t an uncommon feeling for missionaries, but it’s not talked about a lot.”

As Cordell wraps up her first semester as an intern, the Dallas Assembly tailor-made internship program is starting to take on a set form.

“While we want to keep it bare in structure so we can develop each intern’s unique calling,” says Lisa, “we see that there are some really beneficial practices that we want to implement for everyone.”

As part of that structure, all interns will serve three weeks in kids ministry, three weeks in youth ministry, three weeks in office ministry, and three weeks learning about pastoral care. Additionally, interns will be asked to complete Pathways so that the church’s internship can fulfill the requirement of the program.

“The goal of this is really to expose them to different ministries within the church so they can understand more clearly what they are called to,” says Lisa.

“We are more in the business of developing, not training,” Boyd says. “There are programs that will train but we want to expose them to as much as we can and help them develop the character and the stamina required to succeed in ministry.”

There are already plans for two additional interns to start next year and, as a church with a weekly average attendance of 200, the leadership pillars being developed now are what the Boyds believe will support the church as it continues to grow.

Ashley B. Grant

Ashley B. Grant has a master's degree in Human Services Marriage and Family Counseling from Liberty University and is a credentialed Christian counselor through the American Association of Christian Counselors. Grant also holds certifications in crisis pregnancy counseling and advanced life coaching. Ashley is a fourth generation Assemblies of God preacher’s kid and has one daughter and three sons.