What’s it like to have a summer youth ministry intern?
By Jayk Hinze
“WOOOOOO! GOOD MORNING!” This was the sounds to which many students awoke on the first day of our Teen Choir Tour in early June. Our summer youth intern, Todd, was showing off his own lung capacity to wake up the guys in what would become a part of his trademark, energetic reputation for the summer. I may only be a few years removed from my college years, but it seemed as though I had forgotten just how much energy they have!
But it was his energy and his enthusiasm for Jesus that made Todd such a big hit with so many of our students during his short time with us this summer. Even when it woke me up in the process. And while Todd and I are actually fairly close in age, in the eyes of our students, we are in very different seasons of life. College is less than five years away from most of my students, and Todd provided a tangible, relevant example of what it looks like to love Jesus well in the coming season of their lives. This is why, more than any other specific project or task that I assigned to him over the summer, I told Todd that I wanted him to prioritize being with the students during our trips and activities. Students glean so much from relationships, and I am happy to report that Todd rose to the occasion in this category!
Having a summer intern also provided me with opportunities for some more intentional discipleship. Obviously, I wanted Todd to learn all my sweet Youth Ministry skills that I’ve picked up over the years. But more than this, I wanted to provide Todd with an opportunity to grow in his relationship with the Lord. So, I planned a curriculum of spiritual topics to work through each week over lunch. Some topics were related to activities we were planning/leading at that time and others were about spiritual practices and ways of nourishing our relationship with Christ. I used these meetings as an opportunity to hold him accountable to reflecting on the work that God was doing in and through him during the summer. And the lunch piece gave me a chance to show Todd, a native of New Orleans, around our city that is no slouch in the food department.
The biggest lesson that I learned in the process of having my first summer youth ministry intern is this: God’s grace truly is enough. Todd did a great job, and you will never hear me say otherwise. But, in any kind of relationship centered on intentional discipleship, there is always the chance that one person’s brokenness will rub up against another’s. So, when projects ended up differently than I had planned or when conversations turned out differently than I had anticipated, I heard God reminding me of grace. And when I dealt with feelings of inadequacy or felt as though I was unprepared for Todd’s work, I had to learn to receive God’s grace for myself in this process as well. And through His grace I was able to remember the bigger picture, which is that through this process, students and leaders have been able to grow closer in their relationship with Jesus Christ. And that is a reason for anyone to go, “WOOOOOOO!”
Jayk is the Youth Director at Church of the Saviour in Cincinnati, Ohio.