What is Mentored Ministry?
Mentored Ministry is the field education component of the Masters of Divinity program at GCTS. Students have the requirement, opportunity and privilege to be mentored by an experienced pastor or ministry leader, and gain practical experience in one or a variety of ministries during the time they are in seminary. There are three kinds of Mentored Ministry units:
The Orientation Saturday Mornings are expected to be the required prerequisite for the first semester. This consists of two morning 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. This is also the time when students will be given the Profiles of Ministry character and ministry assessment, which they are instructed to share with their mentors once they have a Mentored Ministry situation secured.
MM Field Units (MM502, 601, 602 & 701), which normally follows the Orientation Unit, is when students engage in 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 preparation, etc.).
The MM Capstone unit (MM702) is the third type of unit that can be taken. The course focuses on bridging the world of the seminary and the world of ministry beyond GCTS. The course will provide an opportunity for critical reflection on the vocational preparation of the student. It will be considered an online class only available for the Old Program.
As a mentor, you would be required to meet with them personally 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 at the 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 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.
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 Office of the Seminary. Prior to commencing a mentoring relationship with a student, the mentor must have completed an Application to Mentor, agreed to the Mentoring Commitment, and have been approved by the Mentored Ministry office.
The school requires mentors to have had at least five years of full-time ministry experience before seeking the 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 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. 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. If a mentor does not attend the New Mentor Orientation within 2 semesters of written approval, they may not continue to mentor.
Mentors will also be expected to uphold the standards of the Mentored Ministry program in order to continue their status as mentors. This includes meeting the minimal 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 unit(s). 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 an afternoon in early September and in early February. A complimentary lunch is included.
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 2 semesters 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, and the Mentored Ministry office will provide them with the appropriate resources.
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“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 involves 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.
Firstly, it could make a huge difference in the kind of networking needed to find a ministry job after graduation – particularly if a student is planning on, or open to the possibility of, ordination. Frankly, we find that students with denominational affiliation 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 is very helpful to unite and resource with other Christians who share one’s theological and methodological convictions and/or emphases. We advise students to begin the process of finding their best possible denominational fit now, rather than figuring out later that they are uncomfortable with a given ministry situation. Also, selecting a denomination (or association of churches) does not necessarily mean that they are locked in. There is often reciprocity between denominations and non-denominational churches, meaning quite a few are willing to hire people from outside their denominational group.
Thirdly, even though a student may believe that God is not calling them to ordained ministry or a job in the church, a time may come when this might change. They owe it to themselves to at least know their convictions and preferences, “just in case.” Plus, if they 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 they start, the better!
So, how can students start the process of checking out denominations? Please take a look at our Denominational Chart. We have listed the top-represented denominations from the GCTS student body and categorized them by topics that seem to matter most to our students in their selection process: church polity, theology, stance on women in leadership, and view on baptism. We have also included contact information for the regional and national representatives of these denominations for your convenience.
Finally, please note that we have several copies of The Handbook to Denominations in the United States available on loan in the Career Services office (AC233).
All mentors are asked to review and sign our Mentoring Commitment, seen 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.
All mentors working in ministry with Gordon-Conwell students must be approved by the Mentored Ministry office of the Hamilton campus. 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 school requires a mentor to have had at least five years of full-time experience in ministry before seeking the approved mentor status. It should be noted that long years of experience and 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 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. 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. If a mentor does not attend a New Mentor Orientation within 2 semesters of approval, they will not be allowed to continue to mentor until they do.
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 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.
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, at least, some 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 be used for that purpose. They may or may not have skills in certain areas of ministry. Their mentored ministry environment, 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 12 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 helping to plan for these sessions. Be intentional and direct, but also gentle and fair. This is a time to talk about the student’s development and evaluate their performance, as well as to plan for the future. The mentor and the student are 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 on which mentors are to assist their mentees: The beginning-of-the-semester Learning Covenant, and the end-of-the-semester Progress Report (or Final Evaluation, if this is the mentee’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. Please be sensitive to student’s assignment deadlines. 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 mentee. Any and all forms that mentors need may also be downloaded and printed from the GCTS web site.
On the evaluation forms, Mentors are asked 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 the 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. Small group mentoring is a possibility for mentors/churches with multiple MM students. Variations should be discussed with the MM office.
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.” Other titles may be appropriate, which are more descriptive of their ministry role (e.g. youth leader, small group coordinator, etc.).
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 for the Mentored Ministry course – and all courses – 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:
Acceptable Kinds of Ministries
A significant range of ministry experiences are acceptable to the MM Department – from the student’s 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.
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 submit all paperwork to our office. Please do not agree to submit the student’s work for them, or to submit your part separately.
Helps for Mentors
Since you, as a mentor, have an intense interest in preparing persons for ministry, we suggest that you review areas in your own life where you have had difficulty, or where the advice of a mentor would have been helpful to you. Then, consider the following ways to help your mentee in similar areas:
You could add other perspectives. Mentoring will transform the student, revive your soul, and will, we believe, prepare a more effective, servant minister. By mentoring seminarians, you have an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the furtherance of the gospel, both here and around the world. Thank you 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.
Local church organization/structures
Recruitment/training of volunteers
Mission of the local church
Church office staff
Delegation of ministry tasks
Initiating change in the local church Serving through Pastoral Care
Visiting the homes of church members
Community resources for referral
Funeral and memorial services
Ministry to elderly
Lay training in care-giving Planning Programs
New member class
Evangelism training, outreach and events
World missions education and short-term
Ministry to young children
Choir and music ministry
|Understanding Process and Procedures
Sermon preparation and delivery
Teaching all ages
Baptisms and/or child dedications
The Lord’s Supper
Leading Sunday worship
Local church finances
Minister’s job description
Annual evaluation of the pastor Reflecting on Personal Issues
Leisure time; vacation
Personal ethics Reaching out in Community Ministry
Determine community needs
Community service projects
Motivating others for outreach
Crossing racial/cultural barriers