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 while at seminary. There are two kinds of Mentored Ministry units:
The Orientation Unit is the very first unit that a student takes. This consists of an online course training that can be taken concurrent to MM505. Students who have yet to begin their field units 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.
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.
Are there any prerequisites?
Please know that the pre- or co-requisite for the field units of Mentored Ministry (on-site ministries, not the orientation unit,) is MC501- Spiritual Formation for Ministry. You will need to take this course either prior to, or concurrent with, your first field unit of Mentored Ministry (MM505).
How do I set up my Mentored Ministry?
Click here to learn about The Process of Mentored Ministry.
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.)
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 integration of practical experience with theological learning.
However, advanced standing is a possibility for entering students who have had at least (no less than) five 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.
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, para-church ministries, summer projects and overseas missions. Many kinds of ministry roles are acceptable, except for primarily administrative and/or worship & music leadership positions. 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 financial remuneration. 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, and Christian schools.
You are encouraged to pursue any valid ministry in which you have interest, but are also 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).
Please also note that at least two out of four field units must be done at a local church context. For students who feel strongly that their calling lie outside of the local church, they can submit the General Petition Form to fulfill their third and fourth unit at a setting of their choice.
What is an approved mentor and how can I get mine approved?
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, and have been approved by the Mentored Ministry office. The requirement for the approved mentor status is minimum five years of full-time ministry experience.
Gordon-Conwell also 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.
Check with the MM Office to see if a mentor you might wish to work with has been already approved. If not, then have them apply to be your mentor by filling out the Application to Mentor Form. If you and/or your prospective mentor wish to learn more about the responsibilities and expectations of a mentor, click here on Guidelines for Mentors.
What Mentored Ministry opportunities are there in the Hamilton area?
Click here for current Mentored Ministry Opportunities – churches and ministries looking for students.
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 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 soley based on remuneration, 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 about 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, as well as our Career Services web site, www.MinistryList.com.
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 non-denominational or inter-denominational backgrounds, the seminary encourages students to think and pray through their personal theological stances and consider how best they might fit into existing denominations.
Students sometimes ask, “Is my denominational affiliation important?” Our answer is, “It very much could be.” Here are three reasons why:
Firstly, it could make a huge difference in the kind of networking needed to find a ministry job after graduation – particularly if you’re 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 your 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 you 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 you may believe that God is not calling you to ordained ministry or a job in the church, a time may come when that might change. 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!
The Gordon-Conwell Denominational Chart
So, how can you 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.
The denominations listed in this Chart reflect the top-represented denominations from the Gordon-Conwell student body. Omission of any particular denomination does not reflect a negative view on the part of the seminary, nor does inclusion in this chart reflect our endorsement. Also, the descriptions and categorizations are written from a general evangelical stance, and do not connote their official endorsement by the respective denomination.
The Mentored Ministry Department welcomes any clarifications, updates or corrections from knowledgeable readers or denominational representatives to improve the accuracy of this Chart. We also reserve the right to decide whether the proposed changes should be adopted. Most of all, we hope and pray that this Chart will be of genuine help to our students as they seek God’s direction for their lives and ministry.
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).
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 multicultural 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 some sort of a salary or a 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 you may receive pay for Mentored Ministry work. Click here to learn more about CPT: Curricular Practical Training and Academic Scholarships.
I plan to be a Dual-Degree Student (i.e. M.Div. & MACO)
Dual-degree (M.Div./MACO) students are required to do four Mentored Ministry units: the MM Orientation & Vocational Formation unit (MC501), two field units (MM505 & MM605). They must still attend MC501 in the first semester upon matriculation.
The Orientation Saturdays consist of 2-Saturday of the year. Time and date will be announced per semester.
The two field units should be taken during two semesters of the student’s choice. These two field units must be done in a church setting (unless an exception made by petition to the MM Office). In addition, OMP will not count toward MM field units for dual-degree students except by special permission.
Dual degree Counseling Practicums and Internships are handled exclusively by the Counseling Department.
Attempting dual degrees is a challenging undertaking that 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 with a strong pastoral care focus, or for clinical counseling positions with a strong focus on spiritual care.