Twenty college students are spending their summer focusing on spiritual and personal growth while meeting the needs of the city of Conway.
The group of interns with City Church will take the next five or so weeks to focus on four key areas: vision, leadership, scripture and service.
Director of Operations Ryan Mayfield said the internship, which has been done in the past, is more structured and intentional this go around.
"College students are the next generation," he said. "They are the leaders, the movers and the shakers of tomorrow. If we’re not training up college students then what are we doing?"
Mayfield said he wants to be proactive with the students.
"For a long time, the church, in general, I don’t think has done a good job of being proactive in what Ephesians 4 calls equipping the saints for the work of ministry," he said.
While the church has done great at gathering people into a building and ministering to them, Mayfield said, what the scripture and that passage specifically teaches is not about the church doing the ministry, but equipping its believers for that purpose.
"That’s what we’re trying to do is equip young college students to be able to go out and do the work of ministry for the rest of their lives no matter what their job is," he said.
So far, Mayfield said, the summer has gone great and they have a lot of stuff coming up.
"We have several different projects that the senior center gave us with a lot of their people," he said. "We helped Tacos 4 Life move to their new office building and then a lot of yard work, cleaning out gutters … things like that."
During those service projects, Mayfield said, it’s been cool to see neighbors and people driving by stop ask what they’re doing. Recently, he said, someone asked who they were with and one of the interns said City Church.
The passerby, Mayfield said, assumed they were cleaning the yard of a church member, but they didn’t even know the resident and were just doing what was needed.
"We want to build a culture that’s not building up City Church, but that’s meeting real needs on the ground for everyone regardless of whether they even go to church … we don’t care," he said.
Along with the service projects, Mayfield said the group of students will also learn how to study the Bible, not just read it, learn how to lead and attend optional workshops where speakers come in and teach practical advice like the banker that is set to attend in a few weeks to talk about how to budget.
During this time, he said he hopes the students are learning to be self-feeders, not just accepting what is told to them, but that they go out and investigate for themselves and in turn, be able to teach that to the generation that follows them … students investing in students.
Mayfield said a culture has taken over that says people that get paid are the ones who do the ministry.
"That’s just not how we’re designed to work and function," he said. "If I can get people to understand one thing, it’s that everybody has a role to play. Everybody’s been hand-wired and designed and has specific giftings and talents and callings, that, I think, have laid dormant for far too long in our culture."
In the several weeks to come, Mayfield said, overall, he hopes the students gain a heart for meeting needs and seeing brokenness around their worlds whether it be in Conway or their hometown.