Future Mentored Ministry Students
You are here because you are considering attending Gordon-Conwell and want to learn about the Hamilton Campus Mentored Ministry program.
- What is Mentored Ministry?
- Are there any pre-requisites?
- How do I set up my Mentored Ministry?
- What is the breakdown of hours?
- I have previous ministry experience - can this count?
- What are acceptable kinds of ministries?
- What is an approved mentor and/or how can I get mine approved?
- What Mentored Ministry opportunities are there in the Hamilton area?
- Can I do Mentored Ministry for pay?
Is My Denominational Affiliation Important?
What is Mentored Ministry?
Mentored Ministry is where you get to be mentored by an experienced pastor or ministry leader as you gain practical experience in one or a variety of ministries while at seminary. There are three kinds of Mentored Ministry units:
The Orientation Unit is usually the very first unit that a student takes. This consists of seven lunchtime meetings during the first semester. Students are encouraged to take this time to think and pray through their options for their field units of Mentored Ministry as well as find a good home church for them and/or their family. The Orientation Unit for nearly all students will be MM501 (M.Div.) or EM/MM501 (MAEM). This is also the time when students will be given the Profiles of Ministry-I character and ministry assessment.
Field Units are where you do actual ministry on the field. One unit is a minimum of 12 weeks long – a normal semester in length. Students typically do one unit at a time, but it is not uncommon for students who happen to work at least 20 hours per week in ministry to do double units. Please note that the course MC501, Spiritual Formation for Ministry, must be taken prior to or simultaneous with your first field unit.
The Capstone unit is a classroom experience, organized much like the 7-class-session Orientation unit. Students matriculated beginning this Fall 2015 will be required to participate in this class when the time comes, while it will be optional for the rest. The Capstone Unit will cover sessions on: Reviewing your Call, Vocational Discernment, Preparing for the Job Search, and Starting Well in your Ministry (and/or work). Along with covering these categories, the course will also help each student develop a full job/ministry Portfolio by the end of the unit, ready to be used in job search. (Students may also choose to do both a field unit and informally audit the class sessions.)
Please know that the pre- or co-requisite for the field units of Mentored Ministry (on-site ministries, not the orientation unit,) is MC501- Spiritual Formation for Ministry. You will need to take this course either prior to, or concurrent with, your first field unit of Mentored Ministry (MM502).
How do I set up my Mentored Ministry?
Click here to learn about The Process of Mentored Ministry.
What is the breakdown of hours?
We acknowledge that ministry involves both direct people ministry as well as preparation time. Therefore, a minimum of 50% of weekly MM hours must be spent in direct people ministry (including mentoring meeting). This means that a maximum of 50% of weekly hours may be spent in preparation (e.g. Bible studies, sermon, etc.)
No Mentored Ministry units may be waived for prior ministry experience. This is in keeping with the seminary’s philosophy and commitment to the integration of practical experience with theological learning.
However, advanced standing is a possibility for entering students who have had at least (no less than) seven years of full-time, non-administrative, professional ministry experience prior to matriculation. Click here for the MM Advanced Standing Petition.
In addition, it is possible for incoming students to transfer credit from another seminary where they have done field education (Mentored Ministry) as a for-credit course. Students should arrange for this through the Registration Office.
What are acceptable kinds of ministries?
A significant range of ministry experiences are acceptable to the MM Department—from your home church to nearby congregations, para-church ministries, summer projects and overseas missions. Many kinds of ministry roles are acceptable, except for ones that are primarily administrative. Remember that each unit must be at least 12 weeks long at a minimum of 10 hours per week.
Church-based ministry would include ministry “from womb to tomb” – i.e. all ages and needs within the church. These could include ministries such as small groups, outreach, visitation, counseling, prayer, recovery, social justice and mercy ministry, “shadowing” the pastor, preaching and teaching, children, special needs, Christian Education, ethnic congregations, men’s and women’s ministry, and more.
Here is a list of churches and ministries in our area who are interested in having a student work with them. Some have specific ministries in mind for a student to focus on, while others allow you to design your own with them. We urge you to consider these opportunities, based on ministry and growth potential more than on location (distance from seminary) or financial remuneration. Also, please know that your options for Mentored Ministry are NOT limited to this list.
Para-church ministries are also valid for providing significant ministry experience. To name just a few, our students work with ministries such as prison, crisis pregnancy, homeless, overseas missions, internationals and international students, seafarers, national parks (ACMNP), hospital chaplaincy (CPE), campus ministries, military chaplaincy, Alpha, and Christian schools.
You are encouraged to pursue any valid ministry in which you have interest, but are also encouraged to pursue developing a new ministry situation as motivated. Do remember that the key to a situation being accepted is to have or find a GCTS-approved mentor at that site (see next section).
All mentors working in ministry with Gordon-Conwell students must be approved by the Mentored Ministry office of the Seminary. Prior to commencing a mentoring relationship with a student, the mentor must have completed an Application to Mentor, and have been approved by the Mentored Ministry office. The requirement for the approved mentor status is minimum five years of full-time ministry experience.
Gordon-Conwell also requires training in supervision for new mentors. Mentors are expected to attend (once) the seminary’s fall or spring New Mentor Orientation program (a 3-hour afternoon, including lunch) prior to, or simultaneous with, working with their student. If a mentor is not within driving distance of the seminary, exceptions are granted with approval of the Mentored Ministry office.
Check with the MM Office to see if a mentor you might wish to work with has been already approved. If not, then have them apply to be your mentor by filling out the Application to Mentor Form. If you and/or your prospective mentor wish to learn more about the responsibilities and expectations of a mentor, click here on Guidelines for Mentors.
What Mentored Ministry opportunities are there in the Hamilton area?
Click here for current Mentored Ministry Opportunities – churches and ministries looking for students.
Can I do Mentored Ministry for pay?
While we understand that there are students who desire to work in paying ministry positions while in seminary, there are never enough of these kind of positions to go around. Most churches or ministries are able to offer reimbursement for at least mileage and ministry expenses. But beyond that, it varies greatly according to their ability to pay.
Some opportunities in our Mentored Ministry Opportunities List pay some kind of significant salary. Some even provide housing in lieu of pay for those who would be willing to move into their community, which can be of great help. However, students are discouraged from making a choice for a church or Mentored Ministry site soly based on remuneration, rather than on the value of a given opportunity. In cases where expediency and convenience are primary, both the student and church lose out.
Bear in mind that it is not unusual for regular Mentored Ministry situations to develop into paid ministry positions. Be thoughtful and prayerful about your choice of church home as well as about deciding on employment plans for how you will meet your expenses.
If you are looking for a part- or full-time position in ministry, we would encourage you to use your existing networks, as well as our Career Services web site, www.MinistryList.com.
Gordon-Conwell is proud of its history of evangelical ecumenism as our students, staff and faculty hail from a wide variety of denominational backgrounds. While many of our incoming students come from non-denominational or inter-denominational backgrounds, the seminary encourages students to take time to think and pray through their personal theological stances and consider how they might fit into existing denominations.
Students sometimes ask, "Is my denominational affiliation important?" Our answer is, "It very much could be." Here are three reasons why:
First, it could make a HUGE difference in the kind of networking you will need in order to get a ministry job after graduation, particularly if you're planning on or are even only open to the possibility of getting ordained. Frankly, we have found that students who are denominationally affiliated have a much easier time. As we often say, unless God has clearly told you to go non-denominational, you should seek to choose an appropriate denomination.
Secondly, it's very helpful to unite and resource with other Christians who share your theological and methodological convictions, and/or emphases. Rather than figuring out later that you may not feel comfortable with a given ministry situation, it's important that you begin the process now of looking for the best possible fit for you. And know this - even if/when you do select a denomination (or association of churches), it does not mean that you are locked there. There is often reciprocity between denominations and non-denominational churches, i.e. quite a few are willing to hire people from outside their denominational group.
Third, even though you may firmly believe that God is not calling you to ordained ministry or even a job in a church, there may come a time where it could happen. You owe it to yourself to at least know your convictions and preferences "just in case." Plus, if you do choose a denomination, the inquiry or candidate process can take a long time (one to two-plus years is not uncommon) so the earlier you start, the better!
So, how can you start the process of checking out denominations? We can help! Click here to look at our Denominational Chart. We've taken the top represented denominations in the GCTS student body and put them in a chart for you, categorized by what we find matters most to our students in the selection process (church polity, theology, women in leadership, baptism, etc.). We have also included the contact information for these denominations' national and regional representatives. The Chart is a tool for our students' use - a launching point for their denomination search.
The categorizations in the Chart are written from a general evangelical stance. Omission of any particular denomination is not intended to reflect a negative view on the part of the seminary, nor does inclusion of any particular denomination necessarily connote Gordon-Conwell's endorsement. In addition, our description and categorization of any denomination does not connote its official endorsement of our description.
The Mentored Ministry Department welcomes any clarifications, updates or corrections from knowledgeable readers or denominational representatives to help us improve the Chart. We also reserve the right to decide whether to adopt these proposed changes or not. Most of all, we hope and pray that this Chart will be of genuine help to our students, as they seek God and His direction for their lives and ministry.
Finally, we also have several copies of The Handbook to Denominations in the United States available on loan from our office.
We are glad that you are here! We love our brothers and sisters from around the world. You're welcome to worship and minister with any church of your choice. This could be of your culture and ethnicity, but there are also many good international or multicultural churches in the Boston area. Also, you could choose to experience your own cross-cultural ministry in a traditional Anglo, New England church! (The Mentored Ministry Office has a list of churches who are eager to have international seminarians worship and serve with them.)
There are also many different ways you can look for churches and Mentored Ministry situations for yourself here. You could network through your church denomination, through your family, by visiting recommendations from friends you meet on campus, or by taking suggestions from Student Life Services and/or the Mentored Ministry Office.
Most students, internationals included, hope to find a Mentored Ministry situation that will pay some sort of a salary or a stipend. As an F-1 visa holder, you know that you are limited to on-campus jobs to receive pay. However, under Curricular Practical Training you may receive pay for Mentored Ministry work. Click here to learn more about CPT: Curricular Practical Training and Academic Scholarships.
Beginning in the Fall semester of 2013, dual-degree (M.Div./MACO) students are required to do four Mentored Ministry Units: MM501 - the Orientation Unit, and MM502 and MM601 as field units. The capstone unit, MM 702, will also be required. It is strongly recommended that MM501 be taken in the first semester a student matriculates on campus (usually the Fall). The Orientation Unit (MM501) consists of seven, one-hour lunch time sessions over the course of the semester. The capstone unit should be taken during a/the final semester in school. It consists of bi-weekly 1-hour classes, and is intended to guide and prepare students to apply for appropriate ministry (and other) positions. The two field units may be taken during two later semesters of the student's choice, and will require participation in one of the bi-weekly faculty-led reflection groups.
These two field units MUST be done in a church setting (unless you have petitioned and received special permission from the MM Office). In addition, note that Compass and OMP will not be able to count for MM field units for dual-degree students without special permission.
Dual degree Counseling Practicums and Internships are handled exclusively by the Counseling Department.
Attempting dual degrees is a challenging undertaking that will take you at least four years to accomplish — but it can certainly be worth it. The combined M.Div. and MACO degrees can be particularly helpful for qualifying students for ministry positions which have a strong pastoral care focus, or for clinical counseling positions where there is a strong focus on spiritual care.