Guidelines for Mentors - New England Mentored Ministry

Guidelines for Mentors

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.

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.

Special Concerns:

Mentoring Commitment

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.


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 they 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 Mentored Ministry 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).

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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.

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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.

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Mentoring Sessions
Each student must spend at least 10 hours in individual supervision with the mentor for each twelve-week Mentored Ministry 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.

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Written Reports
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 Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary web site.

Special Note: Students are instructed to submit their work directly to the Mentored Ministry Office via anvas. Since certain forms need your signature and these assignments need to be submitted digitally, the Mentored Ministry Office will accept a personal email from you in lieu of a physical signature.

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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.

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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.

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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:

  • Consider offering at least minimum wage an hour, including student’s preparation time.
  • Pay necessary ministry expenses, such as ministry meals and mileage costs.

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  • 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 for five or more years. Those in bi-vocational ministry can be approved who have had ten or more years experience.
  • It is desirable that the mentor have theological training (Bible college, seminary, or some theological courses).
  • The mentor should possess supervisory skills.
  • The mentor 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.”
  • The mentor should agree with Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Community Life Statement.

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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 musical worship leading positions. Remember that each course must be at least 12 weeks long at a minimum of 10 hours per week.

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Mentor Responsibilities

  • Participate in the New Mentor Orientation. If a mentor is unable to attend the training session, he/she will speak with the Mentored Ministry Office and/or commit to attend the next scheduled Orientation, provided 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. A special emphasis on the student’s spiritual and personal development is 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 Form), sections of which both the mentor and the student must complete. It is expected that you will discuss each other’s assessment before the student turns in the evaluation. You will also need to sign the appropriate cover sheet, indicating that you have discussed the contents together. An email to the Mentored Ministry Office in lieu of your signature on any of these documents is acceptable.

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.

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Helps 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:

  • 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 database 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 such as 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 songs? 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, where minister, congregation and God play those roles, respectively.
  • 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, and/or 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, 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, 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, relationships with medical personnel and other related topics.
  • Tell them of a critical clergy flaw — leading in a worship service but not worshipping. Help them to know how to experience worship while they lead. Tell them how you manage to lead worship yet access joy as you worship with the people. Tell them how you keep your pastoral prayers fresh and meaningful.
  • 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 one – the disassociation of the intellectual, the personal, the interpersonal and the 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. 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.

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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.

Potential Topics for Mentoring Sessions

Managing Ministry
Church office staff
Conflict management
Delegation of ministry tasks
Goal setting
Initiating change in the local church
Leadership style
Local church organization/structures
Recruitment/training of volunteers
Time management
Ministry staff
Mission of the local church

Planning Programs
Adult education
Choir and music ministry
Evangelism training, outreach, and events
Leadership training
Ministry to young children
New member class
World missions’ education and short-term
Youth ministry

Reaching out in Community Ministry
Community service projects
Crossing racial/cultural barriers
Determine community needs
Motivating others for outreach
Political issues
Social ethics



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Reflecting on Personal Issues
Devotional life
Continuing education
Family life
Leisure time; vacation
Minister’s library
Personal ethics
Sexual purity and integrity

Serving through Pastoral Care
Community resources for referral
Funeral and memorial services
Hospital visitation
Lay training in care-giving
Ministry to elderly
Nursing homes
Pastoral counseling
Visiting the homes of church members

Understanding Process and Procedures
Annual evaluation of the pastor
Baptisms and/or child dedications
Building program
Denominational polity
Leading Sunday worship
Local church finances
The Lord’s Supper
Mid-week services
Minister’s job description
Moderating meetings
Sermon preparation and delivery
Teaching all ages

Special Concerns

“My student has Moved On – May I please have another?”
If your student or students have 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.

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“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.

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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.

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