How do you keep up the energy to run an active and thriving church?
Easy. Bring in 20-30 college interns every summer who minister, ignite and champion the mission and vision of the local church.
March is the time of year when Antioch receives applications from students spread across the country who are eager to be a part of what God’s doing here in Bend, OR. Each summer for the past seven years, a group of twenty-somethings move to Central Oregon to give an entire summer (or year) of their lives serving as part of the local church, gaining purposeful ministry experience, and being mentored by the church leadership team.
When I became a Christian as a college student while at Clemson University, I spent several summers in leadership at a youth camp in the San Bernadino Mountains outside of Los Angeles. So when we started Antioch, the internship idea was a simple way to provide a platform for Antioch to stay engaged with college students and for college students to have a life changing summer – much like the summer camp counselor experiences were for me in my twenties.
As a result, the internship began almost the same time as the birth of Antioch in an attempt to offer a progressive context where students could gain hands-on experience in ministry from a new and creative church plant in the heart of the Northwest, which is the most un-churched part of the country.
Now in its eighth year, the Antioch Internship program has been going strong and has pulled close to 200 students from over a dozen colleges and universities from all over the U.S. and Canada – many of which are now on staff at the church, and another dozen who have moved back to Bend for the sake of remaining in the Antioch community.
Amidst a generation of youth that many say is growing more apathetic toward God and his church, there are still those who believe in devoting their lives to the work of the Kingdom. There are still those who have a hunger to seek God and grow into spiritual maturity.
It’s exciting to witness, year after year, the passion and eagerness of young people across the nation as they come to be a part of as well as shape the Antioch community.
Jesus revitalized the message of God by calling and empowering youth. Likewise, I believe the energy and passion of young people is essential for keeping up the energy and fire of active and thriving churches.