I was talking to a very frustrated youth worker yesterday and he was lamenting over his so far fruitless job search. Here’s a clip of what he was saying:

I need some encouragement and advice. I have applied to many places, but no matter where I send a resume the response is almost always the same, or very similar. I don’t have enough “experience.” The problem is all I can get are internships and it seems no one values that as authentic experience. I just haven’t had someone be willing to take a chance on me, and I’m at a point in life where I either need to give up on being a youth pastor, or someone has to take the risk. I just am having trouble knowing what to do, or how to take it all in.

This is a tough situation to find yourself in – you need experience, but need someone to give you a job so you can get experience! Feels like the ultimate circular reasoning with a great youth worker caught in the middle. As I was processing this cycle this week, I wanted to unpack a few of the things that might be happening in this situation. Here’s a few ideas:

The church genuinely needs someone with more experience
There’s a chance that the church just got burned by an inexperienced rookie. Maybe they have had a string of short-timers who came in with lots of great ideas and little stamina for the long haul. They want someone they can trust, and you don’t appear to be it. Maybe this isn’t a risk-taking church and genuinely wants someone who is proven previously and chances are will deliver again here.

You failed to sell what experience you do have
In some cases it isn’t your actual experience, but how you pitched your experiences to them. It is possible you actually have the experience in the areas they are looking for but it wasn’t represented well on your resume or in the interview. Reflect on what they might have seen or not seen and how you can better align your resume’s details to what a church is looking for.

They sensed you weren’t a learner
This one is a tough pill to swallow and almost never will they say this to your face – but maybe they caught something you said that told them you weren’t someone who was willing to adapt, learn and grow with their leadership. You wouldn’t have gotten the interview if they weren’t somewhat interested, but something didn’t click after that. Argh.

It is an excuse for something else
Maybe you simply weren’t a fit. Maybe the “not enough experience” line was actually an excuse. Maybe they didn’t think you would gel with their players, or you weren’t what they were expecting from paper to in person.

Here’s the key: whatever the reason, this isn’t the church for you! It is OK to learn what you can from the situation and simply move on. It can be frustrating to be caught in this vicious circle, but God is guiding your next steps and has the perfect place for you, just keep being faithful as He opens and closes doors.

What other options are there in this situation? Would love to know your thoughts in the comments!


Before David was King of Israel, he was an intern–in a sense. David wasn’t appointed immediately after being anointed by God. God put a clear call on David’s life but didn’t make him chief right away. Interesting… Here are 3 Important Things that we can learn from David’s “internship”:

1. IMPORTANT DISTINCTION: Pastorship is not a job; it’s a lifestyle. In the old testament, after Saul (king of Israel) disobeyed God, the prophet Samuel went to the house of a man named Jesse (David’s dad) looking for a new king, David wasn’t in his house when Samuel came. Why? He was tending to his flock. Samuel said, “Anoint him. This is the one.” Then, during that whole Goliath debacle, David was making trips to and fro his sheep, and when he knew he couldn’t keep going back and forth, he entrusted another to watch over his flock. There’s no way they could be left alone. He was DEDICATED to that herd. David’s anointing wasn’t for him. It was for those that he was called to shepherd. Whether you’re called to be a pastor vocationally or not, you are called to love the flock that you’re with, even if you’re only there for a few months (Paul anyone?).

2. IMPORTANT DISMANTLING: “Your calling” is not yours. It’s only yours in the sense that God has entrusted it to you. In every other sense, it’s His to own and run. He doesn’t need you to accomplish His purposes. However, God desires for you to be a part of what He is doing. What grace! So dismantle any of your own notions of pride or agenda coming into your internship. Even as a young teenager, David knew that his life was not about himself. Even after killing Goliath, the Shaq O’neal of the Philistines, David remained humble as he relentlessly served Saul. Treat your supervisor as such: with unrelenting service. Remember: God didn’t need David, but by grace anointed him as a doctor for an Israel that was sick. David let God call the shots, and God took down the giants.

3. IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: If you don’t have patience, you’ll never be a doctor. We are all called to be doctors for His Kingdom. So pray for patience. It won’t be easy, but God wants build it into your character (it’s more permanent that way). David had to wait 15 years to be king after being anointed by the Lord, then another 7 years before he was made ruler over all of Israel. Much of that time he was hunted by king Saul whom he would replace. David knew he would be king, but refused to take matters into his own hands to expedite the process. Even after Saul was delivered into his hands (could’ve easily killed him during a serendipitous squat) twice, David chose to trust God’s timing. If David’s picture is in the dictionary, it’s next to his 22 year definition of patience. I doubt that you’ll have to wait 22 years for a job, or that your supervisor is trying to kill you, but even if said things are true: abide in grace.

Chance Espinoza is a worship intern with Saddeback Student Ministry’s Worship team.

Quick poll this week suggested by Rob Lee – how long have you been in youth ministry? Add it all up – internships, serving, part-time, full-time – and vote now!


Summer is crazy busy! And while the amount of activities and schedule vary from ministry to ministry, there’s no denying that summer can be a challenging time of year.

So how do you make the most of summer activities? Here are a few ways that might help you fall in love with summer as your favorite season of ministry:

Give your summer interns or key volunteers a chance to lead.
Take the summer off from teaching—and work on getting some of your people up front. Better yet, consider asking students to teach a series as well. Just because you’re not speaking doesn’t mean that it won’t be work for you helping coach them and assist in crafting their talks, but the effort will be worth it. You get a chance to listen and be refreshed while less experienced teachers are being developed.

Try something new…really new.
This summer, we brainstormed up a ton of new ways to engage students. We came up with something that is super new … The Zombie Apocalypse. The whiteboard is filled with ideas on how to make this thing epic – think capture-the-flag + zombies and you’ll get the idea. Will it work? Will I (Josh) lose my job? Who knows, but no one will say we’re content with the same old summer activities. HA! If you need ideas, and didn’t read last week’s articles…shame on you. Now that you are shamed, go read those for a bunch of ideas.

Capture as many text numbers as you can.
Use the summer to expand your contact list. For us, it’s our texting group—we want this to grow significantly heading into fall. This will help you message a ton more students when you start promoting small groups or your fall kickoff teaching series. When a student signs up for an event, make one of the required fields their phone number and a check-box allowing you to text them. They can opt out on their phones at any time.

I think we’ve said this enough the past 2 weeks, but it’s because we don’t want you to miss it! Relationships are the point; don’t lose sight of that during summer. Whatever you plan is pretty much an excuse to have conversations and challenge students in their faith. Make the most of your summer activities!

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

From time to time we get a question that perhaps we don’t know the answer to or like this one, where there could be dozens of answers to and we put it out you , the More Than Dodgeball Community.

Nathan Crabtree from Northminster Presbyterian Church in Hickory, N.C. wants to know:

Do you do paid internships? If so how much is a good amount to pay an intern? 

So please weigh-in and give us a brief description about how your Church does internships.

Are yours paid or unpaid?

Do people pay your church to intern? 

Do you offer college credit?

-Geoff (Twitter)

Last week it was interesting to see that close to 65% of student ministries now offer (or will offer soon) some sort of ministry internship. Quick follow-up to that one suggested in the comments – are your internships paid or unpaid? Vote now!


This week’s poll question asks about internship opportunities at your church. Just a few years ago opportunities were few and far between – seems like now there are a TON of places to get your first experience in youth ministry. Curious if you have interns in your setting, too!


Here was the welcome/introduction video for HSM’s new intern, Chelsea Collins. I’m sure students found it very informative in a “get to know you” kinda way.