Mission and Vision
December 8, 2021

Raising up Home Grown Missionaries: The Value of “Mission Internships”


Rev. Dr. Jason Carter
Senior Pastor, Trinity Wellsprings Church

Why do most churches outsource their global missionaries? Why do most Presbyterian churches have to
look to random local contacts to support and are seldom able to raise up foreign missionaries from their
own congregation?

These are fair questions. I spent 12 years serving overseas as a missionary in Central Africa. My home
church, a Presbyterian church in the Midwest, was sending out the door about one million dollars from
their mission budget each year (mostly earmarked for foreign missions), but I was the ONLY home-
grown foreign missionary of that large congregation despite the church having a long-standing dynamic
and growing high school ministry of 100+ students year after year.

Are we, American Christians, too comfortable with our wealth? Too afraid to suffer? Too local-centric in
our missional endeavors? All that may be the case.

Yet, I’d offer another strategic diagnosis. We simply have failed to create pathways to raise up global
missionaries. Many Presbyterian churches that I know have regular “Youth Ministry Interns” or “Pastoral
Interns” or “Children’s Ministry Interns”, communicating that we are fully committed to raising up the
next generation of church leaders. We easily recognize the importance of ministry internships to
produce a crop of discipled and seasoned young leaders for the task of leading our churches.
Here’s what I’ve seldom seen: churches prioritizing “mission interns” to raise up the next generation of
missionaries in obedience to the Great Commission so the church doesn’t always need to “outsource”
the Great Commission to other organizations or other denominations.

For years as a foreign missionary, I advocated for churches to begin a “Mission Internship” program. The
counsel always fell on deaf ears. Thus, when I arrived at Trinity Wellsprings Church as the Senior Pastor, I
finally had some “say” about making it happen in a local Presbyterian Church!

A couple years ago, we sent our first “mission intern” overseas for about 10 weeks of the summer. After
finishing her senior year of college, Becca Bowers – one of our own “church kids” who is known and
loved by our church family – was sent out by our congregation in early 2021 to serve with Antioch
Partners. Recently, Becca re-upped her commitment to serve overseas for the next 3-5 years.
I believe that this might be the first time in our church’s nearly 60-year history that we are not
completely outsourcing the Great Commission!

THE NUTS & BOLTS of our Mission Internship:
The nuts and bolts are easy. Each year, our Mission Leadership Team sets aside $3,000 to advertise for a
“mission intern”. We look for young people with a passion for Jesus or for “finishers” who might be
newly retired with gifts to offer the global church. We will partner with our own overseas mission
partners and/or work with trusted organizations like Antioch Partners or Frontier Fellowship. If no one is
called by God into the mission internship for a given year, we simply fold that money into another
mission endeavor within the mission budget.

Much like a youth ministry internship, the costs are low but the impact is great.

Our church has gained the experience of raising up a missionary from our own congregation, and the joy
our church family is receiving from raising up “one of our own” has been truly refreshing and

So let me encourage you in this endeavor – to raise up home-grown missionaries from your own midst.
It can be done! For the next 10 years, try offering a “mission internship” and see where God might take
your church family on mission!

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