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.

"The purpose of the combined Mentored Ministry & Placement Departments is to help students perceive, prepare, and pursue their calling in Christ." - Proverbs 16:9

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Commonly Asked Questions:


Is My Denominational Affiliation Important?

Special Circumstances:

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 during the time you are in seminary. There are two 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.

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Are there any Pre-Requsites?
Please know that the pre or co-requisite for students to take field unit of Mentored Ministry (on-site ministries, not the orientation unit) is/are the following:

M.Div. = MC501-Spiritual Formation for Ministry
MAEM = MC501-Spiritual Formation for Ministry or
EM502-Education Ministry of the Church or
EM604-The Teacher and the Teaching Task

This means that you need to take the pre-requisite either prior to or concurrent with your first field unit of Mentored Ministry.

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How do I set up my Mentored Ministry?
Click here to learn about The Process of Mentored Ministry.

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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, to para-church ministries, summer projects and overseas. Many kinds of ministry roles are acceptable, except for primarily administrative ones. Remember that each unit must be at least 12 weeks long at a minimum of 10 hours per week.

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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.)

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I have previous ministry experience - can this count?

No Mentored Ministry units may be waived for prior ministry experience. This is in keeping with the seminary’s philosophy and commitment to the necessity of integration of practical experience with theological learning.

However, advanced standing is a possibility (beginning Fall 2013) 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.

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What experiences can count for Mentored Ministry?
A significant range of ministry experiences are acceptable to the MM Department—from your home church, to nearby congregations, to para-church ministries, summer projects and overseas. Many kinds of ministry roles are acceptable, except for primarily administrative ones. 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 whether or not they are able to offer any kind of stipend. 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, Christian schools, and so forth.

You are encouraged to pursue any valid ministry in which you have interest but also are 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).

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What is an approved mentor and / or how can I get mine approved?
The basic qualifications for a mentor to be approved are five years of full-time ministry experience, ideally in the kind of ministry that you will be working with. Check with the MM Office to see if a mentor you might wish to work may be already approved. If they are not on the list of approved mentors, then have them apply to be your mentor by filling out the Application to Mentor. If you and/or your prospective mentor wish to learn more about responsibilities and expectation of a mentor, click here on Guidelines for Mentors.

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What Mentored Ministry opportunities are in the Hamilton area?
Click here for current Mentored Ministry Opportunities – churches and ministries looking for students.

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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 do 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 based exclusively on being able to have a paid position 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 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. We also would encourage you to look at our Placement web site, www.MinistryList.com for any potential part-time (20 hours per week or more) or full-time positions.

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Denominational Considerations
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 be non-denominational, you should seek to choose a denomination.

Secondly, it’s very helpful to unite and resource with other Christians who share your theological and methodological convictions. 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! We’ve taken the top represented denominations in the GCTS student body and put them in a Denominational Chart, 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. Finally, we also have several copies of The Handbook to Denominations in the United States available on loan from our office.

Denominations and Gordon-Conwell 
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 many good 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 well into existing denominations.

There are a great many advantages to belonging to a denomination or association, including help with career services, ordination, networking, ministry training, ministry opportunities and professional development.

The Gordon-Conwell Denominational Chart
The denominations listed on this chart were selected based on the various denominational backgrounds represented in the Hamilton student body over the last several years. 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 of that denomination. In addition the description and categorization of any denomination should not connote that denomination's official endorsement of our description.

The Chart is tool for our students' use - a launching point for their denomination search. It contains general information regarding various bands of distinctives which we have found to be of particular importance to our students, namely Church Polity, Theology, stances on Women in Leadership, Baptism, and local/regional/national contact information.

The Mentored Ministry Department welcomes any clarifications, updates or corrections from knowledgeable readers or denominational representatives to help us improve the accuracy of 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. Click here to view the Denominational Chart.

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I am an International Student
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 mixed-culture 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 them some sort of salary or 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 there are two situations where you may receive pay for Mentored Ministry work. Click here to learn more about CPT – Curricular Practical Training and Academic Scholarships.

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I am a Partnership Student
If you are a Fall incoming student and part of the Scholarship Partnership Program, you will need to register for the following: MM501 (the basic, required Orientation Unit). To register for Partnership Mentored Ministry, (sometimes called “MMP”) you should register for MM502-HB. This is only for M.Div. and MAEM students. Students from other majors do not need to register for any Mentored Ministry as it is a degree requirement only for MAEM and M.Div.

However, all incoming Partnership Students are required to attend the four, lunchtime Partnership sessions during the Fall semester. The requirements for everyone are as follows:

Attend all of the following events and submit the related assignments: 

  • The Mentored Ministry & Partnership Welcome Event
  • Theological Viewpoint on Stewardship Lecture. Students are to take notes and to submit a written 2-page reflection paper due to Mentored Ministry office before the next session.
  • Historical Viewpoint on Stewardship Lecture. Students are to take notes and to submit a written 2-page reflection paper due to Mentored Ministry office before the next session.
  • Biblical Viewpoint on Stewardship Lecture. Students are to take notes and to submit a written 2-page reflection paper due to Mentored Ministry office by the last day for written work.

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I plan to be a Dual-Degree Student (i.e. M.Div. & MACO or MAEM & MACO)
Beginning the Fall semester 2013, dual-degree (M.Div./MACO) students are required to do three Mentored Ministry Units: MM501 (the Orientation Unit) and MM502 & MM601 as field units. 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 lunchtime sessions over the course of the semester.

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 units MUST be done in a church setting (unless you have petitioned and received special permission from the MM Office).  In addition, Compass and OMP will not be able to count, and in no circumstances may Partnership MM count for one of your field units as a dual-degree student.

In addition, beginning the Fall semester 2013, dual-degree counseling Practicums and Internships will be handled exclusively by the Counseling Department.

Attempting dual degrees is a challenging undertaking which 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.

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“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.” [HCSB]
Our job is to help you use your mind to plan your way, while continuously looking to Jesus to be your Guide.