Snapshot of Success: Intern Academy Inspires

 In All Church of God, CHOG, Leadership Development, Youth Ministries

By Carl Stagner

Happy headlines are few and far between, but in the kingdom of God, good news isn’t in short supply. In fact, there’s bound to be something to celebrate at any given moment. Though struggles are easy to spot, even in church life, a snapshot of success was recently shared among Church of God friends and the wider world of ministry. In view of the ever-present need for new ministers to accept the baton from previous generations, a Church of God pastor has helped take a one of the Movement’s mechanisms for leadership development—especially in the arena of youth pastors—to the next level.

Under the leadership of then Church of God Ministries youth director Andy Stephenson, the Youth Ministry Team and Youth Network Team of the mid-2000s saw a dream become reality: the beginning not of just one internship, but a network of internships.

“Intern Academy began in 2009 with 4 Church of God youth pastors (we call coaches) and 8 interns,” Chip Taylor, director of Intern Academy explains. “Now we have 61 coaches (a variety of different pastoral roles) and have seen over 300 grads come through the program.”

The picture published recently on social media was captured at the Intern Academy retreat in May. Uniquely depicting five generations of Intern Academy coaches having an intern, the picture garnered a lot of attention from across the Movement and beyond. The picture also represents fifteen years of Intern Academy influence on the kingdom of God.

“Left to right is myself,” Chip Taylor observes, “Gretchen Dedina (student pastor at Willow Creek, who was a resident at Bayside Church in 2004–2007 for me); Nathanael Lyon (now lead pastor at Hope Commity Church in Niles, Michigan, who also interned at Madison Park in 2009 for Gretchen); Jesse Hargett (student pastor at Clarkston Church of God in Clarkston, Michigan, and interned at Salem Church of God in 2016 for Nathanael); and Sophia Mellado, who is an intern currently for Jesse in Clarkston.”

Isn’t that something worth celebrating? We certainly think so!

Learn more about Intern Academy at Learn more about the Church of God movement at

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