It’s a privilege to know each individual intern who comes through the scheme. As I reflect on that fact, the words of Philippians 1:3-5 often come to mind: “I thank my God every time I remember you…I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel.”
The partnerships and friendships forged over the course of the two-year scheme have continued to bless and encourage as we see the Lord at work in and through the interns and alumni. It’s also why there is such excitement during the application season as we meet new churches and individuals who are considering whether to apply for the Intern Scheme. If that’s you, have a look here.
We thought you might like to hear more about how the internship can impact individuals and churches, so we have caught up with two alumni. Miriam Mansfield (Brookdale Church, Ilfracombe) was part of the very first intern cohort, from 2016-2018. Zach Watt (Greenview Church, Glasgow) was an Intern from 2018-2020. As you read these stories, maybe you too might be interested in an internship – this year or in the years to come.
How did the Intern Scheme benefit you?
Miriam: The Intern Scheme was a perfectly timed answer to a specific prayer: “Lord, If I had more time, I think I could help more people, but I also need to earn a living.” The rest as they say, is history!
Aside from the financial support that the internship afforded, I would have found developing a biblical counselling ministry quite daunting. Biblical counselling in Devon was pretty much unknown, so being an intern gave some weight and confidence that this was a good thing and worth pursuing. Navigating the internship alongside fellow interns was invaluable too. Together we were working out what this ministry looked like in our varying contexts, all under the guidance and support of BCUK. We were able to share what was encouraging and what we were struggling with and found that we were not alone.
Zach: Being an intern was a time of deepening understanding and experience in biblical counselling. It provided a structured and supported time to continue to work out what counselling could look like as a ministry both in my own local church context and as a ministry to other local churches. Being mentored was a significant benefit. I was able to talk through my thoughts, ideas, and pastoral issues. We would share our desire for how ‘this thing called biblical counselling’ could be rooted in the local church. The subjects and topics that we covered over the 2 years were also helpful, thought-provoking and stimulating. They provided a foundation for constant learning and growing.
What difference has the Scheme made to your church?
Miriam: Being able to measure the difference it has made to my church is difficult. It is a bit like watching a baby grow. You don’t necessarily notice changes when you are with them every day! Having said that we have got better at being more open and honest about our struggles. People have shown a real desire to engage with resources like Side by Side and Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands to enable us to become wiser helpers. We are better at pursuing people, listening well, and following up on what people have shared.
Zach: A focus of the internship was to look for ways to impact a ‘culture of change’ in the church. As one of the church leaders, I was given the opportunity to present ideas, develop and implement approaches that had a direct impact among the church leadership team. We started 1-to-1s among elders to encourage openness and mutual support and that has now been encouraged across the church family. I also worked with the leaders of the Community Groups to encourage more of a focus on applying Scripture to life and praying into one another’s lives. I have been able to bring some of the skills and approaches and perspectives of biblical counselling into pastoral care and been involved in training and equipping through various courses and seminars.
How have you continued to serve your church since the Intern Scheme?
Miriam: After the internship ended, my church made the decision to employ me full time, so I have continued doing what I was doing when I was an intern. This was nothing short of miraculous as we’re a small church and had only ever employed one person – the pastor! My role is broad, from formal 1-to-1 counselling to visiting the elderly and everything in between.
Zach: I have had opportunities to maintain the ‘culture of change’ among the elders and to shape and encourage the ‘one anothering’ among the church family. Since the beginning of this year, I have started a new role as Associate Pastor for Discipleship, continuing to develop discipling via small groups and 1-to-1 ministry, giving time to personally disciple men and counselling those who feel ‘stuck’ in their discipleship journey. I also equip church members in their discipleship and care of others.
How have you been able to serve beyond your church?
Miriam: Some of my time is also spent supporting care ministries in other churches in the town and feeding in biblical counselling approaches there. Like my own church, those ministries serve those who are non-believers in our community and forge connections with other secular service providers. I am also part of the Devon Biblical Counselling Steering Group which seeks to promote biblical counselling in Devon through things like evening meetings and day conferences on topics such as pastoral care, mental health, and domestic abuse.
Zach: I work alongside the team at New Growth Christian Counselling, am referred counselees, and I enjoy peer case reviews and supervision with that group. I am also involved in helping New Growth provide training and support to a growing network in Scotland of those trained in biblical counselling through BCUK. It’s good to see increased confidence and trust in the provision of biblical counselling among the church networks and I have been asked to run seminars at various conferences across Scotland. I have been privileged to help provide training for students at Tilsley College (Motherwell) and Faith Mission College (Edinburgh) and one of the 20Schemes churches in Lanarkshire. I also have been leading groups of men using ‘Real Change’ for an addictions ministry, Hope for Glasgow, as well as providing 1-to-1 counselling with some of the men.
Applications for the September 2023 intake close on 17 March 2023. If you have completed the Certificate Course and are keen to find out more about these Internships, please contact Amanda Naves on email@example.com