We are pleased to have you serve as an approved mentor in our
field education program at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary! Please review the following guidelines and adjust them to your particular ministry context as necessary.
All mentors are asked to review and sign our Mentoring Commitment, seen and hyperlinked below. The seven elements of the Commitment reflect the seminary’s emphasis on certain values and approach to the mentoring relationship.
A mentor must have a minimum of five years in full-time ministry experience. They have applied to be a mentor via the Application to Mentor and have attended Gordon-Conwell’s half-day New Mentor Orientation. They also agree to attend a Mentor Re-Certification every five years.
A mentor exercises a biblical, servant-leadership style, not a dictatorial one. Our goal needs to be to help make those who are under us succeed, not for those we supervise to make us or our ministry appear superior or successful. Mentors are not merely ministry supervisors; rather, they model openness to the student and express sincere interest in their personal, vocational and spiritual development. Mentors share their experiences and lessons from their own ministry and spiritual lives with the students.
1. Mentors agree to meet personally, one-on-one, with each mentee on a weekly or bi-weekly basis (one hour weekly or two bi-weekly). If the mentor is no longer able to meet this requirement then another qualified mentor must be arranged for.
2. While mentoring times may include a certain amount of supervision of ministry tasks, mentors will be intentional to engage in theological reflection with the student over ministry issues and experiences. Support and encouragement surrounding personal, spiritual and vocational goals and needs is also expected.
It is requested that mentorees be provided with at least two “shadowing” experiences per semester:
1. Students to Mentor: An opportunity to observe the Mentor in actions (e.g. visitation, sermon prep, preaching, committee leading, Bible Study leading etc.) with a 1/2 pg. discussion/ reflection on what hey have observed and learned.
2. Mentor to Student: To have the mentor observe the student in a leadership role and evaluate them wit feedback (1/2 pg. evaluation/ response welcomed.)
A list of possible activities can be obtained from the MM Office.
Students have a menu of required and elective courses in practical Theology and other topics that they must take. It would be of benefit to students for you to ask each semester which of these courses they may be taking- and to whatever degree possible seek to create or dovetail relevant ministry experiences in your context to the context of these courses.
Gordon-Conwell encourages each church at which a student does their Mentored Ministry to seek to form supportive Lay Committees. A committee would include about three to four lay people who have been exposed to the student’s ministry and who would meet with the student twice a semester (or course) as a group for the purpose of sharing encouragement and constructive feedback. Mentors should help facilitate this as appropriate in their context.
Time Limits: Seminary students are eager to serve, but are also often under a significant amount of personal and academic pressure. Therefore, mentors and their churches should not press students for more weekly ministry hours than contracted in the Learning Covenant, remembering that preparation time as well is included in students’ required weekly hours (10 hours per week for 12 weeks for each MM course).
At the same time, mentors and ministries should expect students to be faithful to their ministry with them, even during times of stress, since students are also learning to work through the pressures and stress of everyday life and ministry.
Ability Limits: All believers are gifted in various and 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 catalyst of revival in a diminishing church; nor be at the church as often as the pastor(s) may be expected to, nor to single-handedly bring crowds of newcomers into the church).
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 been approved by the Mentored Ministry office.
The school requires that mentors have at least five years of full-time ministry experience before seeking 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, and if the other school’s program is comparable to ours, Gordon-Conwell will recognize such training. If a mentor does not attend a New Mentor Orientation within a year 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 keeping the minimal mentoring commitment of meeting with their mentee for an average of 1 hour per week for personal and ministry mentoring throughout the 12 weeks of the MM course. It also assumes 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 disciple of Jesus and 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 used for that purpose. They may or may not have skills in certain areas of ministry. Their mentored ministry environment, therefore, should ideally provide exposure to a broad range of tasks and situations to help them gain competence and awareness in 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 individual supervision with the mentor for each twelve week course, 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 to evaluate 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. Incorporate prayer and reflection on spiritual issues into 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 mentees with: 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 course with them). The mentor is expected to collaborate with the student in developing the Learning Covenant for each semester or course, 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.
Special Note: Students are instructed to submit their work directly to the Mentored Ministry office via canvas. Since certain forms need your signature and these assignments need to be submitted digitally, the Mentored Ministry Office will accept an email from you in lieu of a physical signature.
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. You may 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.). Choosing a functioning title for your Mentored Ministry student could be helpful since the work they do with you will likely go at the top of their resume after graduation.
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 for all courses, projects which offer remuneration is 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 Mentored Ministry Department – from the student’s home church to nearby congregations, para-church ministries, full summer ministry and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s overseas missions program. Many kinds of ministry roles are acceptable, except ones that are primarily administrative or worship leading positions. Remember that each course must be at least 12 weeks long at a minimum of 10 hours per week.
It is recommended that the mentor and the student put preparation of assignments into their schedule of meeting plans for the semester.
* Special Note: It is the student’s responsibility alone to turn in all paperwork to our office and digitally to canvas. Please do not agree to turn in the student’s work for them or to submit your part separately.
Help for Mentors
Since, as a mentor, you 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 Sessions
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 would be good to have each of these ministry areas addressed in some way, as part of the mentoring process.
Serving through Pastoral Care
Understanding Process and Procedures
Reflecting on Personal Issues
Sexual purity and integrity
Reaching out in Community Ministry
“My student has Moved On – May I please have another?”
If your student has finished their Mentored Ministry with you or has graduated, we’d be happy to make a new posting for you to announce your opportunity. Fill out the Position Description Form and send it in to us, and we will create a posting from it. Also, if you find that you have other MM opportunities for more students, we would be happy to post them.
Note: Students are not assigned or sent to Mentored Ministry positions by us. Rather, we prepare students to prayerfully seek out their own Mentored Ministry situation(s) by means of their own networking. One of the resources available to them is our list of available openings, which are posted on our bulletin board, sent out by e-mail, posted online and displayed outside our office. Click here to see the online list of current Mentored Ministry Opportunities. These postings are made based on the information you give us in the Position Description Form.
“I Have Concerns with How My Student is Doing”
We are interested in your concerns and want the Mentored Ministry experience to be the very best it can be for you, your students, and your congregation or constituency. Every intern and internship site has its challenges, and most often, learning to work through difficult issues causes us to grow in wisdom and maturity. Nevertheless, there are times when concerns or problems reach a point of needing additional help and insight. Our director (Dr. Katherine Horvath) firstly urge you to address the situation biblically (Matthew 5:23-24; 18:15-17), but we are also available to speak with you and/or your student by phone or in person. Please feel free to call and make an appointment with us, as you see the need.
A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
Our job is to help you use your mind to plan your way, while continuously looking to Jesus to be your Guide.