Adding a DCE intern to church ministry

What is the DCE intern experience?

The internship experience is 12 months of full-time field training during which time the prospective DCE graduate works closely with the pastor, congregational boards and various age groups within the parish. The focus of the intern's efforts are in those areas in which he/she has talent and training, such as education, youth and music.

What does the university hope will happen in the internship?

Hopefully, both the congregation and the student will be of mutual benefit to one another -- the congregation as it receives additional staff support in critical areas of its ministry and the intern as he/she: (1) attempts to clarify his/her vocational intent; (2) experiences firsthand the workings of a congregation; (3) demonstrates his/her potential for DCE ministry; and (4) develops an effective style of working with Christ's people.

What is the intern trained to do?

Naturally, the intern has unique abilities and interests which he/she brings to a congregation. There is a core of skills in which the intern is to have at least a minimal degree of competence. This includes ability to be able to assess congregational needs, help in selection of educational curriculum, recruit and train teaching personnel, lead a Bible class, and assist congregational boards to function effectively. In addition, most interns are able to work effectively with young people, train youth counselors, plan retreats and give direction to a youth program.

What kinds of experience should the intern have?

There are two basic kinds of experience that an intern should have: the first is in learning how to work with all age groups within a congregation, especially parents, congregational leaders, the elderly and the very young. Secondly, the intern should have the opportunity to experience the joys and frustrations of leadership responsibilities, both in attempting to maintain and improve current programs, and in developing new ministry activities.

How much responsibility should the intern actually have?

It is important to remember that the intern is still a student and as such may not fully realize how much responsibility he/she can handle. As a result, gradual involvement with minor congregational responsibilities is suggested (for example, asking the student to lead a teacher's training program in the first month would not be suggested.) As the intern experiences success and satisfaction, it is expected that he/she will be able to assume more responsibility.

What kind of congregation can have an intern?

Congregations, who are assigned an intern, have a pastor or DCE who is willing to (a) enter into a significant relationship with the intern; (b) make himself available for mutual planning, sharing and problem solving; (c) exercise patience and understanding regarding his/her level of expectations; (d) share the congregational ministry as the intern develops competence; and (e) regularly contribute to the edification of the team through mutual prayer, study and sharing. In addition, the congregation is willing to: (a) support the educational and youth ministries of the parish; (b) develop board structures that can be supportive of the need to maintain, improve and develop new ministry programs; and (c) financially support the intern program.

When can the internship begin?

The recommended starting time for the internship is June-July. Exceptions to this date may be made, especially if the site supervisor will be absent from the parish at the time or if the student is not available. Occasionally, internships begin midyear, between Jan. 1-Feb. 15.

Does the congregation have a voice in who is assigned?

Yes. If a congregation is interested in an intern, Concordia will ask in the application to specify the kind of person that best fits with the parish and full-time staff. A follow-up visit is made to refine these needs and preferences. On the basis of this firsthand information, an intern is assigned. Interviewing of potential interns by the congregation is not permitted.

Can an intern remain after the experience ends?

Yes. In fact, a majority of interns receive calls to remain at their internship site. This is possible because the vast majority of interns are seniors and have already completed their academic course work.

Is there any orientation prior to the internship experience?

Yes. The student is prepared for internship through various orientation meetings. In addition, the site supervisor is brought to campus for a one-day matching conference, a cost covered by the sponsoring congregation.

How is the intern supervised?

Two kinds of supervision take place. On-site supervision of the intern must be done by a pastor or certified DCE. University supervision happens twice a year (usually in the fourth and tenth months) and is done by a member of the Concordia faculty or an adjunct faculty member.

How much will an intern cost the congregation?

Generally speaking, the financial responsibilities of the congregation will be between $20,000 and $23,000 for the 12-month period. The exact cost of the internship will depend on the living costs of the area and the proximity of the congregation to the university.

How can a congregation get more information?

Contact the Concordia, Nebraska DCE office:

    800-535-5494, ext. 7437, or

    Concordia University - DCE Program
    800 N. Columbia
    Seward, NE 68434