“When the apostle Paul instructs the leaders of the church to equip the saints for the work of service (Ephesians 4:11-12), he certainly would have expected this to include training pastors, missionaries, and lay elders.”
~Rocky Wyatt, President, XL Ministries
The pastoral internship offered with XL Ministries has two primary focuses. Although it can easily apply to any pastoral role in the church, its direct application is towards lead/associate pastoring or youth pastoring. Anyone who wants to be a pastoral intern can choose either. Jesus’ recruitment method could be reduced to these two words: “Follow Me.” There is a great deal of meaning wrapped up in these words. If a person is to follow Jesus, they must stop going their own way. There is a place for classroom instruction, but keep in mind that discipleship is life-on-life. It is knowing someone well enough to be able to speak into their lives. It is allowing them to be close enough to you so that they can see you in real life. They must be able to hear your teaching and see how you follow the Lord. This is the very essence of XL Ministries internship programs.
The pastoral internship is 24 months. If the intern is also in seminary while being an intern, their schedule will be extended to either 30 or 36 months. The internship schedules are a collection of Bible-based assignments along with hands-on, one-on-one mentorship from someone in their local church. The mentor is most often a pastor or someone who has been approved by the leadership of that church to be a mentor. Rather than sending potential church leaders away to a seminary to learn ministry, XL Ministries provides the schedule, the curriculum, and the oversight to guide mentors through teaching and shaping their own church leadership right there in their own church.
The pattern of Scripture is that men are trained for ministry as we faithfully fulfill the Great Commission. We must be busy sharing the gospel. By God’s grace, people will be saved. God will gift individuals to fulfill every role needed for the health of the church. Through the discipleship process we teach our fellow believers all that God has commanded. Those who are called by God for pastoral ministry will demonstrate both giftedness and the biblical qualifications that God has established. As they mature in their faith and are affirmed by the church, they will eventually be able to assume the pastoral role. For this to work as God has designed, the church and its leaders must take seriously their role in biblical discipleship.
The concept of pastors training pastors is not a new idea in the Christian faith. In fact, I suppose no Christian leaders would deny the value of pastoral discipleship. Nevertheless, the traditional process in our culture for training a man for ministry is often divorced from the life of the very church where he acknowledged his call to ministry. Pastoral training has not always been separated from the local church, as it often is today. I don’t believe that churches intentionally avoid taking the primary responsibility for overseeing the training of a man in their church. We have simply become accustomed to sending our men away, assuming that an educational institution adequately prepares them for a lifetime of ministry. I don’t believe educational institutions think they are sufficient, in and of themselves, for training pastors. In fact, I suspect most of them would be thrilled if the church took a much more active role in training.
XL Ministries internships don’t start by going away to a campus or signing up for an internet course. Getting started begins in your home church and the internship is conducted at your home church. The church’s pastors and/or elders become mentors for people from within the church they serve. Thus, the first step is for the local church leadership to apply with XL Ministries to offer the XL internship.
Approval for a church to offer the XL Ministries internship begins with a short conversation between XL and the local church leadership. Click the application button to request to speak with XL Ministries leadership. From there you will be guided through the application process.
After a church has been approved to offer the XL internship program, the pastors or elders of the church can recommend someone as an intern. A recommended intern should be someone the pastors or elders have heard teach and believe is gifted to teach. Once a recommendation has been made, XL will invite the potential intern to apply.
“Who bears the responsibility before God to ensure the next generation of leaders is equipped? Paul’s instructions are clear: God has assigned the leaders of every local church the responsibility to identify and equip the next generation of the church’s leadership. As this book demonstrates, many pastors and churches have completely abandoned that responsibility. Rather than using faithful seminaries as a resource to assist them in their duty to prepare the next generation of leaders, they merely write seminary recommendations and provide financial assistance. They may greet students at semester breaks, but rarely interact with them again. It is time for pastors and churches to reshoulder their Christ-assigned duty to identify and equip the next generation of church leaders. For that to happen, we must first exchange the hands-off training model for a more biblical one.”
(Seminary students would choose either the 30-month or 36-month schedule. Click to download example schedule.)
Pastors and elders must be theologically astute. When you assume responsibility to train someone, you must have the theological knowledge and resources to be of benefit to the trainee. This responsibility is such that many choose to avoid it altogether by allowing others to impart the theological training. It is certainly not wrong to use appropriate resources when training, but consider again the pattern in the Bible.
The apostle Paul was very clear with Timothy. He told him that he must “retain the standard of sound words” that he had heard from Paul (2 Timothy 1:13). When Paul says retain he is emphasizing the need to possess or hold on to. The pastor must learn theology for the sake of his own ministry as well as for the purpose of equipping others for ministry. Furthermore, Paul instructs Timothy to “guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:14). Pastors are to keep watch over and protect both the integrity of the gospel message and all of Scripture.
For each internship, the XL Ministries Ordination Training manual is used to help guide the intern through their education. It’s composed of four areas of focus: Bible Knowledge, Systematic Theology, Biblical Counseling and Apologetics. The Bible knowledge memorization includes the theme and outline of each book of the Bible, plus the key chapters, passages, people and dates for the book.
The systematic theology written assignments cover theology proper, Christology, pneumatology, bibliology, and several other essential areas of focus. The biblical counseling section walks through the role of counseling with unbelievers as well as believers, addresses various guidelines and standards for counseling, and provides a list of helpful resources. In the apologetics section the interns will answer questions that steer them towards the understanding that must be clear in their own minds regarding the reasonings and arguments for the truth of God’s word. This manual is a critical resource towards successfully completing the training as a pastor or missionary.