Finding an opportunity for summer employment that pays, fits with school schedules, and offers a life-enriching experience can be a challenge for college students. But that’s the opportunity available to Concordia college and seminary students through a new young adult program called NAILS.
“This is much more than an opportunity to build something — it’s an opportunity to help people and get involved with ministry,” said Don Nordmeyer, NAILS coordinator for Laborers For Christ (LFC), a ministry of the Lutheran Church Extension Fund that helps LCMS churches and schools build within their budgets.
Since LFC began in 1980, most Laborers have been retirees. But the NAILS program is geared to Concordia college and seminary students who will work alongside Laborers as employees of the LCMS organization whose project they are tackling.
Students can sign up to request participation in projects throughout the country. Currently, 11 congregations are expected to have projects operable by May 1, including a child care facility to be remodeled for Hope Lutheran Church, Park Forest, Ill., and an expansion at Trinity Lutheran Church, Superior, Mont.
In recent months, Nordmeyer visited five Concordia college and university campuses and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, to make NAILS presentations. More campus visits are in the works, including a stop at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, on Feb. 11.
“Laborers For Christ has been involved with over 750 building projects, and every single one has left a legacy of spiritual uplift and commitment,” Nordmeyer said. “The students are excited to hear about this new opportunity for young people to get involved with this ministry.”
Concordia College, Selma, Ala., helped kick off the pilot NAILS project this spring when students joined Laborers to renovate Lehman Center. Laborer Ed Kintzinger, who worked for the college as project manager, supervised and trained the students. He and his wife, Ruby, also led daily devotions.
Concordia College CEO Dr. Portia H. Shields said NAILS gave students an opportunity to earn income they could use to help with school costs and taught a positive work ethic. The students learned “perhaps for the first time, how to work well and smart, what a finished product looked like, and how to work under adverse conditions and not quit,” she said.
LFC Vice-President/Director Dan Baker calls NAILS a “win-win-win opportunity” — for students, congregations, and for LFC. “For young people, this is an opportunity for summer employment that’s also a chance to do mission work,” Baker said. “It’s great experience, especially for future professional church workers.”
The program gives congregations the opportunity to reach out to young adults and encourage spiritual growth. Baker also hopes that NAILS will help grow the LFC ministry beyond its core base of retirees.
NAILS participants must be Concordia college, university, and seminary students, but LCMS membership is not required.
Students, working for congregations and other LCMS organizations, earn minimum wage (the same as Laborers’ compensation). Students are asked to make a minimum two-week commitment to a project. Housing for NAILS participants is determined by the participating LCMS organization that selects students for employment.
To learn more, visit www.lcef.org/nails or call 800-843-5233, ext. 6446.
Dec. 11, 2008