Finding and Equipping Your Campus Ministry Interns

Gary Stidham
Six college students sit in booth together at pizza restaurant

Do you have the ability to recruit recent graduates to join your campus ministry staff? Wonderful! Recruiting young campus missionaries or interns is a double win. First, a growing team allows you to engage more of your campus with the gospel. Second, mentoring these young staff helps shape them into lifelong disciple-makers, ministers, and missionaries. It’s a sacred privilege to have a campus missionary on your team! Campus missionaries and interns multiply your ministry effectiveness. And you have the privilege of mentoring an up-and-coming minister eager to learn. It is 2 Timothy 2:2 in action. What a fantastic opportunity! 

Many young staff joined our team during my twenty years leading a campus ministry. In my new role with Texas BSM, I oversee our Campus Missionary program, where recent graduates serve 1-2 years on campus ministry staff. They’re an incredible group! And while most Campus Missionaries have a GREAT experience, some struggle due to personal factors. Occasionally, they struggle due to the role being a bad fit. Disappointingly, some interns struggle due to needing more support from their campus minister. Let’s create an environment for them to THRIVE. Here are some things I’ve learned about having a successful intern program. 


  • It’s better to have no intern than the wrong intern. Yes, it might be tempting to recruit anyone willing to serve. After all, the harvest is plentiful, and the workers are few. However, this may not set your intern up for success and might backfire for your ministry.
  • The first question is, “Are they already doing what I’d want them to do on staff?” Are they already sharing their faith, taking initiative in leadership, and investing in younger students? If so, then they’ll probably be a GREAT staff member! Ask yourself, “Do I want to replicate this student’s DNA in our ministry? Would I want more students just like them?” If the answer is yes, they may be a great intern.
  • The second question is, “Are they spiritually, relationally, emotionally, and financially healthy enough to serve?” The rigors of full-time ministry may be too intense for someone with crippling mental health struggles. A high-conflict person may cause discord within your ministry. A graduate with substantial student loans may need to move into a professional career out of financial responsibility.
  • Start recruiting early. Like REALLY early. Often, I initiate the conversation with potential interns during their junior year, maybe even joke about it when they are sophomores. Plant the seeds of possibility in their mind. “What if you gave a year or two after graduation to serve Christ on campus?” Then, start talking to them seriously during the fall of their senior year. Many sharp students are already getting other internship offers, job offers, and making decisions about grad school. You’re way too late if you talk to them a few weeks before graduation. 


  • Once they’re on staff, treat them as co-laborers and fellow ministers of the gospel. Your intern has received the Holy Spirit, obeyed God’s call to serve, and exhibited leadership abilities. Listen to them. They have invaluable insights that you don’t have about what current students think. 
  • Give them Great Commission responsibilities. Their best hours each day should be spent doing evangelism, outreach, and disciple-making with students. Don’t only give them menial tasks. Give them ownership of specific ministry programs. Allow them the freedom to try, fail, get coaching, and try again. 


  • Help them plan their daily and weekly schedules. This internship will be the first full-time job for many, and time management skills are a steep learning curve. Especially in their first few weeks, check in daily to ensure they have significant ministry tasks to work on. They want to be productive and make an impact. Help them know precisely how!
  • Coach them step-by-step on how to do each ministry task they are assigned. Many are insecure about their abilities and lack experience in leading campus ministry. Whereas Millennials generally wanted autonomy, Gen Z wants mentoring and clear guidance. They see you as the expert they are eager to learn from. They likely want even more clear direction than you are providing. Give them clear resources for discipleship meetings, Bible study curricula, and evangelism training resources. (We created a handbook packed with resources for our Texas Campus Missionaries: CM Handbook.) Make it difficult for them to fail!
  • Meet with them regularly. Check in briefly every day. And, at least every week or two, have a ministry check-in meeting with them. Ask them what is going well and what is a struggle. Give them tips & pointers for ministry success. Communicate clearly what they are doing well. Give them coaching in areas where they struggle. Talk with them about their long-term vocational plans. Invite them to “Give a year; pray about a lifetime” in college ministry.
  • Make sure they have a “personal mentor.” In my program, every Campus Missionary is tasked to enlist a same-gender, older personal mentor who will meet with them regularly to ask about their spiritual life, personal life, mental health, and relationships. This mentor can be you, someone on your staff, or someone in their local church.
  • Make sure their financial needs are met. While some Gen Z students are conscientious of their finances, others are idealistic. They may commit to serving without thinking through how to budget, whether they have insurance, how they’ll handle car insurance, etc. Have these conversations early and ongoing. 

Finally, have fun and bless them. Take opportunities to do fun things together. Invite them to your home for meals. Let them see your family life. Take staff outings to build camaraderie and unity. Remind them often, “You’re an answer to my Luke 10:2 prayers. I’m grateful to God for you!” 

Gary Stidham is the  Director of Training for Texas BSM. You can email him at: gary.stidham@txb.org. Or visit: linktr.ee/garystidham

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