You are here because you wish to work with a Gordon-Conwell student or a student has approached you to be their Mentored Ministry mentor.
- What is Mentored Ministry?
- What is an approved mentor and how do I become one?
- Odds of Getting a Student: a "Disclaimer"
- What is New Mentor Orientation?
- How do students set up their Mentored Ministry?
- I would like a student. How can we get one?
- What denominational considerations are there?
Guidelines for Mentors:
- Mentoring Commitment
- Mentoring Sessions
- Written Reports
- Number of Students
- Titles for Students
- Acceptable Kinds of Ministries
- Mentor Responsibilities
- Helps for Mentors
Potential Topics for Mentoring Sessions
Commonly Asked Questions:
What is Mentored Ministry?
Mentored Ministry is the field education component of two of our degree programs: M.Div. and M.A. in Educational Ministries (MAEM). Students have the requirement, opportunity and privilege to be mentored by an experienced pastor or ministry leader as they gain practical experience in one or a variety of ministries during the time they 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, which they are instructed to share with their mentors once they have a Mentored ministry situation secured.
Field Units normally follow the Orientation Unit and are when students do actual ministry on the field. Each unit needs to be 12 weeks long (a normal semester in length) and at least 10 hours per week. Up to half of the time allotted may be spent in preparation for ministry (e.g. Bible study, sermon, etc.).
M.Div. students have five field units to complete and MAEM students have three. Students typically do one unit at a time, but if they work in a ministry at 20 hours per week they may register for double units. Students may also do three field units over two semesters if their ministry averages 15 hours per week. As a mentor you would meet with them once a week for an hour, committing yourself during that time to their spiritual growth and maturity as well as their ministry knowledge and skills development. Written assignments are required at the beginning (Learning Covenant) and end (Progress Report or Final Evaluation) of each 12-week MM field unit. For those doing double units there is also an assignment (Reflection Tool) due in the middle of the semester.
Here at GCTS Hamilton we are fortunate to have many more churches and ministries interested in having our students work with them than there are seminarians to go around. Therefore only about ¼ of all church or ministry requests actually find a student. A majority of our students (about 98%) find ministry opportunities by word of mouth, and in addition, do their Mentored Ministry within about a 20 mile radius of the seminary.
While we love the church and are happy to make potential Mentored Ministry opportunities known, we do believe that inquirers need to be informed of the odds, so that churches’ or ministries’ hopes for (or pressures on) a student may not be too high - and so that no inordinate amount of labor be done on anyone’s part to try to arrange for something that may not be realistic.
In summary, GCTS Mentored Ministry is committed to being student-centered. We additionally reserve the right to decline or limit certain ministry opportunities we may feel do not offer a robust or supportive enough ministry environment for students at the time.
What is an approved mentor and how do I become one?
All mentors working in ministry with Gordon-Conwell students must be approved by the Mentored Ministry Department of the Seminary. Prior to commencing a mentoring relationship with a student the mentor must have completed an and have been approved by the Director of Mentored Ministry.
The school requires mentor to have at least five years full-time experience in ministry before seeking approved mentor status. It should be noted that long years of experience and excellent skills in ministry do not necessarily qualify one for supervising ministry students. Therefore, the Seminary requires training in supervision for new mentors. Mentors are expected to attend (once) the seminary’s fall or spring New Mentor Orientation program (a 4-hour morning, plus 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 Director of Mentored Ministry. Normally, approval is made complete by participation in the orientation program. If a mentor has been trained in supervision at another seminary, Gordon-Conwell will recognize such training if the other school's program is comparable to ours.
Mentors will be expected to uphold the standards of the Mentored Ministry program in order to continue their status as mentors. This includes meeting the minimal mentoring commitment of meeting with their mentoree an average of 1 hour per week for personal and ministry mentoring during the 12 weeks of the student’s Mentored Ministry units. It also presumes that the mentor is in basic agreement with the GCTS Community Life Statement.
What is New Mentor Orientation?
This is the half-day training and orientation seminar that each newly-approved mentor is required to attend once. These events are typically scheduled for a morning in late August and in late January. They include a morning coffee break and lunch.
If a new mentor cannot attend the New Mentor Orientation (NMO) nearest to their approval date (given in their approval letter) they must come to the next scheduled New Mentor Orientation. Mentors who do not attend the NMO within the first year of being approved will not be allowed to continue to mentor GCTS students.
If a mentor’s application is approved for a local summer Mentored Ministry, upon written approval they may mentor their student through the summer and make plans to attend the Fall New Mentor Orientation. If the mentor is at a location farther than a 2-hour drive from the seminary they will not be required to attend, but will need to work with the Mentored Ministry Office to receive substitute training.
I would like a student. How can we get one?
If you are already an approved GCTS mentor then all you need to do is fill out the Position Description Form and scan, fax or mail it in to us. We will make a posting for your ministry opportunity and 1) Send it out by e-mail to the student body, 2) Upload it to the web site, 3) Post it on our bulletin board outside of our office for students to view, and 4) Keep a full description on file in our office for reference.
If you are not already a GCTS approved mentor, you must be willing to seriously mentor any student who would choose your opportunity, and to go through the process of being approved before we can post your opportunity. This involved completing an Application to Mentor and attending our ½-day new Mentor Orientation. Please read above under “Approved Mentors” to learn how to move forward.
First, it could make a huge difference in the kind of networking needed in order to get a ministry job after graduation – particularly if a student is planning on or is even only open to the possibility of getting ordained. We have found that students who are denominationally affiliated have a much easier time of it. We often say that unless God has clearly told someone to go non-denominational, students should seek to choose a denomination.
Secondly, it’s very helpful to unite and resource with other Christians who share the student’s theological and methodological convictions. Rather than figuring out later that they may not feel comfortable with a given ministry situation or environment , it’s important that they begin the process now of looking for the best possible fit. We do note, however, that even if/when a student selects a denomination (or association of churches) it does not necessarily mean that they are locked there. There is often reciprocity between denominations and non-denominational churches and quite a few are willing to hire people from outside their denominational group.
Third, even though a student may firmly believe that God is not calling them to ordained ministry or even a job in a church, there may come a time where it could happen. Students owe it to themselves to at least know their convictions and preferences “just in case.” Plus – when a student does choose a denomination, the inquiry or candidate process can take a long time (one to two-plus years is not uncommon), so the earlier they start the better.
We regularly urge students to research different denominations with the goal of selecting at least one which they feel fits them best. We have created a Denominational Chart to help them get started. The Chart is built from the list of the top denominations represented in the GCTS student body. The categories selected (polity, baptism, general theology, women in leadership) are based on what we find matters most to our students in the selection process. We have also included the contact information for these denominations’ national and regional representatives. As a mentor and/or member of a denomination, we would welcome any additions, adjustments, suggestions or updates you might want to share in regard to the distinctives of your denomination so that we can keep the Chart as accurate and as up to date as possible.
As of the Fall 2013 semester mentors are being asked to review and hopefully sign the Mentoring Commitment, below. The seven elements of the commitment reflect the seminary's emphasis on certain values and approach to the mentoring relationship. Those who are able to do so will be added to the in-house Recommend MM Sites list.
GCTS Mentored Ministry Mentoring Commitment for pastors, churches & ministries:
- EXPERIENCED MINISTER, GCTS TRAINED/ORIENTED.
A pastor/mentor must have a minimum of five years of full-time ministry experience. They have applied (via the Application to Mentor) and attended Gordon-Conwell’s half-day New Mentor Orientation. They agree to attend an every-five-year Mentor Re-Certification.
- SERVANT LEADERSHIP APPROACH.
A mentor exercises a servant-leadership style not a dictatorial one. The goal is to help make those under them successful, not for those under them to make them or their ministry successful. Mentors also are not merely ministry supervisors. The GCTS mentoring paradigm is one where a mentor models openness to the student, expressing sincere interest in their personal and spiritual development. Mentors share their own experiences and lessons in their ministry and spiritual lives.
- COMMITMENT TO INDIVIDUAL, PERSONAL MENTORING.
The mentor agrees to meet personally (one-on-one) with each mentoree on a weekly basis (minimum 10 times per semester). Group staff meetings do not qualify for this.
If personal mentoring meetings are not possible, an individual with the same qualifications as the mentor must be chosen and approved who will personally mentor the student (e.g. retired pastor in congregation, local denominational representative, etc.).
- Mentoring times should include more than supervision of ministry tasks. It is expected that the mentor will engage in theological reflection with the student over ministry issues and experiences. They will also take care to encourage and help support and develop their mentoree in their personal spiritual formation.
- PREFERRED PATH.
Gordon-Conwell students work through a progression of practical ministry courses in their degree program (spiritual formation, Christian education, evangelism & discipleship, pastoral counseling, preaching, and pastoral ministry). When/if at all possible, mentors will allow and seek to help students integrate a ministry project for that semester with whatever practical ministry course they are taking. Click here to view the Preferred Path.
- REFLECTION GROUPS IN UNITS 4 & 5.
During Mentored Ministry units 4 and 5 students are required to participate bi-weekly in a 1.5 hour faculty-led reflection group on campus (usually Tuesdays or Thursdays during the lunch block). These 1.5 hours will need to be allowed to be included in the ministry hours for that student during those weeks.
- LAY COMMITTEES RECOMMENDED.
Gordon-Conwell also wants to move toward having supportive Lay Committees at each church where a student does their Mentored Ministry. This would involve a group of lay people (3-4) who would meet with the student twice a semester/unit. These people would need to be ones who have personally observed the student in their ministry, and could include [but not consist entirely of] youth. The purpose would be for encouragement and constructive feedback. We would like mentors to help facilitate this as appropriate to their context.
- ACCEPTS STUDENT Limits.
- Time Limits: Seminary students are eager to serve but are also under academic pressure. The church/mentor should not press students for more weekly ministry hours than contracted in the Learning Covenant (remembering that preparation time is included in students’ weekly hours). However, neither should mentors accept significantly fewer hours than those agreed upon during times of stress. Students need to learn to work through the pressures of life and ministry and should keep the average of weekly hours.
- Ability Limits: All believers are gifted in various, marvelous ways by the Holy Spirit, and a purpose of the Church is to help affirm and encourage the development of these gifts in ministry students. At the same time, students should not be expected to accomplish more than possible, given their maturity level and experience (e.g. they cannot be expected to be the revival source of a diminishing church; be at the church as often as the pastor(s), or singlehandedly bring crowds of younger people into the church).
I/we embrace these qualifications and approach to mentoring GCTS students, and can offer a commensurate Mentored Ministry experience for them.
I/we unfortunately cannot make or can no longer make these shifts or accommodations for Mentored Ministry students.
Guidelines for Mentors
The Seminary looks to mentors to provide high quality supervision of the students who are training for various forms of Christian ministry. The supervisor is a mentor—one who teaches, models, and enables the student to grow as a minister. This involves active participation with the student and first-hand observation of the student at work. Being a mentor is being a teacher.
While the Seminary recognizes the needs of churches and Christian ministries to engage students to help in given projects, emphasis must be placed on the educational development of the student. Students should not necessarily be seen as experts in a given area nor employed for that purpose. They may or may not have skills in certain areas of ministry. Field placement, therefore, should provide exposure to a broad range of tasks and situations to help students gain competence and awareness of the many facets of ministry, as well as provide experiences which will foster personal, professional and spiritual development.
Each student must spend at least 10 hours in supervision with the mentor for each twelve week unit, and is to take the initiative in establishing the agenda for these meetings according to his/her needs. As a mentor the supervisor should take an active role in planning for these sessions. Be intentional and direct but also gentle and fair. This is a time to talk about the student's development and to evaluate performance as well as to plan for the future. The mentor is encouraged to make regular use of the reflection tools found in the Mentored Ministry section of the Gordon-Conwell web site. Be willing to share yourself and your life experiences in ministry. Make prayer and reflection on spiritual issues a part of this time together as well. Regular meetings at specified times with a planned agenda are expected.
There are two assignments which mentors are to assist their mentorees with: The beginning-of-the-semester Learning Covenant, and the end-of-the-semester Progress Report (or Final Evaluation if this is the mentoree’s last unit with them). The mentor is expected to collaborate with the student in developing the Learning Covenant for each term or unit, and to sign the cover sheet indicating their approval. At the end of the term the mentor is asked to fill out the “Questions for Mentor Response” as part of the student’s Progress Report or Final Evaluation. The mentor’s signature on the cover sheet of each of these reports indicates that they have discussed the contents with their mentoree. Any and all forms that mentors will need may also be downloaded and printed from the GCTS web site.
Mentors are asked on the evaluation forms to give a suggested grade for their student for that term. At Gordon-Conwell the grades of A or B are acceptable. It is rare when a C is given, and that is only when the mentor (or professor) has a serious concern regarding the performance or character of a given student. The grade of “A” is most common grade – and often the most appropriate one - given to a Mentored Ministry student who has been faithful and diligent. If a mentor does have serious concerns about a student, they are encouraged to first speak with the student and/or to call the Mentored Ministry office for assistance in determining how to best deal with the situation (978-646-4119).
Number of Students
Mentors are not allowed to supervise more than two students at a time unless special circumstances such as denominational concerns or unusual time availability on the part of the mentor would warrant it.
Titles for Students
Various titles are given to students in their field settings. A title which accurately reflects the internship nature and training emphasis of the Seminary's program is appropriate. Common titles for students are "pastoral intern", "student minister", or "student chaplain."
The Mentored Ministry Department understands that not all churches or ministries are in the position to pay students for their work with them, and thus does not require financial remuneration to be given. However, since students pay tuition and/or a lab fee for the Mentored Ministry course, projects which offer remuneration provide a valuable help to students in covering these expenses. Individual needs on the part of both the student and the project must be kept in mind in negotiating possible financial arrangements. If the church or ministry is able to pay a student in any fashion, the specific remuneration plan should be determined at the beginning of the placement and should be noted in the Learning Covenant.
For those who are in the position to offer remuneration the following guidelines are recommended:
- Consider a range of $10-12 an hour, including preparation time.
- Pay necessary expenses such as long-distance telephone calls, meals in connection with the ministry, and .35 a mile for necessary travel.
- The mentor has demonstrated Christian maturity and competence in ministry, possessing the necessary knowledge and practical abilities to do contemporary Christian ministry.
- The mentor is actively engaged in full-time parish ministry or a recognized para-church organization or ministry involved in Christian service.
- It is preferable that a mentor have theological training (usually a seminary degree) and at least five years of full-time Christian ministry experience.
- A mentor possesses supervisory skills.
- Mentors should be in essential agreement with the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary Statement of Mission: “To advance Christ’s Kingdom in every sphere of life by equipping church leaders to think theologically, engage globally and live biblically.”
Back to Top
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.
- Participate in an Orientation for new mentors. If a mentor is unable to attend the training session, he/she will speak with the Mentored Ministry Department and/or commit to attend the next scheduled Orientation if they are within driving distance.
- Meet once a week with student for review of the student's progress both in the classroom and in ministry practice. As special emphasis on the student’s spiritual and personal development is also expected and desired.
- Approve and/or assist in the composing of the student’s Learning Covenant or Learning Covenant Update, due at the beginning of each semester.* (Please remember to sign the cover sheet.)
- Due at the end of each term* is the Mentored Ministry Progress Report (or Final Evaluation) which both mentor and student complete. It is expected that you will each other’s assessment before the student turns the evaluation in. You will also need to sign the appropriate cover sheet indicating that you have discussed the contents together.
It is recommended that the mentor and student schedule preparation of assignments into their meeting plans for the semester.
* Special Note: It is the student’s responsibility alone to turn all paperwork in to our office. Please do not agree to turn in the student’s work for them or to send your part in separately.
Helps for Mentors
As mentors you will want to go beyond the formal structures which have been designed for the program, since you have an intense interest in preparing persons for ministry. Review areas in your own life where you have had difficulty or where the advice of a mentor would have been helpful to you. You may then want to consider the following ways to help your mentoree in similar areas:
- Walk them through your library and tell them how you use these vital resources in ministry. How do you choose books for your library? Budgeted amount each year? Do you have them in a computer data base for checkout purposes? Do you encourage your laity to use these resources?
- Discuss one of your recent counseling cases (change it enough to make the persons anonymous and to protect confidentiality). Evaluate your own performance. Be vulnerable. Discuss the legal issues related to counseling. Tell them how you work with crises like suicide and abuse, among other issues.
- Give the student an inside view of administration and church governance, e.g., discuss the power of agenda setting, the structure of the meeting room and other contributions and distractions of meetings. Let them accompany you to a meeting. Tell them what to expect and then discuss the dynamics after the meeting is completed.
- Take the student inside your mind and heart as you prepare a worship service. Why do you follow a particular order or why do you choose particular hymns? What is the place of liturgy? What biblical, theological, and practical motifs support your theories of worship? What are your expectations of worship? Discuss Isaiah chapter six as one model of worship. Discuss the way you create a worship service to provide an alternation between what God does and what the "actors" do. Invite the student to evaluate Kierkegaard's analysis of prompters, actors and audience.
- Rehearse your sermon preparation with the student. Let the student see how you choose a text, the exegetical and analytical aspects of your preparation and the hermeneutical process you use to interpret the text, the way you gather illustrations, and how you prepare to deliver the sermon. Discuss what it means to preach a biblical sermon.
- When the opportunities arise, give them instructions in preparing for a funeral, a wedding, a baptism, receiving of members, among other special services.
- Discuss your own spiritual and devotional life with the student. Be honest with them. Tell of the dark nights of the soul as well as affirming the mountain-top experiences. How often do you have devotions? What is the best time of day for you? What resources do you utilize?
- Work with the student on priority setting. Discuss family issues, taking time for a spouse and children and vacations and time off for recuperation. Discuss "ministerial guilt" with them when one must choose between family and church.
- Consider periodic discussions on personal finances, church finances, tithing, financial campaigns, and stewardship among other related topics. Tell them how you pay your own way and do not expect handouts from others.
- Give them opportunity for experience: preaching, teaching a Sunday School class, leading a small group, first level counseling, working with children and youth and singles and the aged, among other needed experiences. Take them to the hospital when you call on your people. Help them to understand hospital procedures, the best times for visiting, relationship with medical personnel and other related topics.
- Tell them of a critical clergy flaw -- leading worship but not worshipping. Help them to know how to experience worship when they lead worship. Tell them how you manage to lead worship yet stand on tip-toe with joy as you worship with the people. Tell them how you keep your pastoral prayers fresh and meaningful. Again, at this point, remind them of Kierkegaard's concept that the typical church has God as the prompter, the minister as the actor and the congregation as the audience, when the proper roles are: the minister is the prompter, the members are the actors and God is the audience.
- It is assumed that one of your objectives in mentoring is to discuss the call to ministry. This is a crucial dynamic of your work with the students. You may want to discuss Tertullian's concept that "baptism is ordination into the ministry" (paraphrased) and then to distinguish between the general call of all Christians and the specific, vocational call to full-time ministry. You might want to discuss H. Richard Niebuhr's understanding of the call, in his book The Purpose of the Church and the Ministry.
- Discuss the ethical and moral implications of ministry. Make them aware of temptations that arise in counseling and visitation.
- Work with the students on an integrative model of spiritual formation. Remind them (and yourself) that the protestant model is often a fragmented model -- the disassociation of intellectual spiritual formation and personal, interpersonal and social formation from spiritual formation. Help them to integrate these.
- Provide resources for their devotional and prayer life. Share Doberstein's prayer manual with them. Introduce them to Michael Quoist and to the church fathers as well as to the more contemporary expressions of devotional life.
You could add other perspectives. We hope you will and that you will share them with the Director of Mentored Ministry for future editions of our manual. Mentoring will transform the student and will revive your soul and will, we believe, prepare a more effective, servant minister. You have an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the ministry. Thank you in advance for the part you will play in the process. You are the most critical link in our program. We cannot do it without you.
Potential Topics for Mentoring Students
The following subjects are suggestions for discussion in regular mentoring sessions. Mentors and students may add to this list and adapt the issues to individual needs, however, it is good if each ministry area is addressed in some way as a part of the mentoring process.
Serving through Pastoral Care
Understanding Process and Procedures
Reflecting on Personal Issues
Reaching out in Community Ministry