MENTORED APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM
The Mentored Apprenticeship Program (MAP) was introduced at the 37th General Assembly by the Interim Committee on Ministerial Education. The program was developed in collaboration with Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (GCTS) and designed to help meet the EPC’s new educational requirements for ordination to the office of Teaching Elder, approved by the 36th General Assembly.
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NEW EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS
Recent educational changes for ordination now specify certain required courses, which—if the three blocks of hours in Bible, theology, and church history are taken out—leaves eight individual, three-hour required courses (totaling 24 hours). They are:
• Ministry as Mission.
• Pastoral Care/Counseling.
These eight courses are ministry-related and skill-based, yet only preaching is uniformly taught with practical application required. When studying evangelism, leadership, discipleship, or pastoral care, wouldn’t it be appropriate that students be required to “do” them at the same time as well? MAP was created because we think they should. All eight MAP courses are currently available and administrated by Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Charlotte campus, and come with two important benefits:
• Half the normal GCTS tuition cost.
• Transferable to any seminary accredited by the Association for Theological Schools.*
All courses are taught online and involve video lectures, readings, assignments, and papers (or coursework), plus an in-the-field project supervised by the student’s local chosen pastor-mentor. The coursework involves approximately 50% of what might otherwise be expected in a graduate class, while the project accounts for the other 50%. Because of the project and mentoring components, all MAP courses are considered “in residence.”
Application to take MAP courses is free of charge. Students make take as many or as few as they like.
*The Association of Theological Schools, the accrediting board for seminaries, requires that all schools must accept transfer credits from other ATS schools. So any student at any other seminary may take MAP courses through Gordon-Conwell (Charlotte) and expect their credits to transfer. However, it is important to request that your school assign individual MAP courses to the appropriate requirement slots in its degree program before taking the course.
The project for each course will involve the application of principles relating to that specific discipline. For example, a project involving actual personal evangelism or the training of others to participate in evangelism might be a logical project for a course in evangelism.
Every student must be connected to a local church or other ministry, and recruit a pastor (or other ministry leader) to serve as his or her mentor. The two meet at regular agreed-upon times so that the student may process what her she is learning in the course and from the project, and so the mentor may share personal wisdom and experiences. Topics of regular discussion should include:
1. What the student is learning academically.
2. What the student is learning through practical experience.
3. What the student is learning about him/herself and ministry in the process.
The Interim Committee on Ministerial Education (ICME) was charged with implementing three core values:
1. Necessary ACADEMIC EDUCATION.
2. Appropriate CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT.
3. Diverse PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE.
A fourth core value has been identified; namely, that the second and third values can best be implemented in a MENTORING RELATIONSHIP with a seasoned pastor-practitioner. The Mentored Apprenticeship Program facilitates each of these goals. Even a student’s academic preparation is enhanced by discussing what he or she is learning, and thus taking greater ownership for it.
So who benefits from the Mentored Apprenticeship Program? We believe the following five groups:
1. Current EPC seminary students, who will only need to pay one-half tuition for 24 of their credit units. At an average of $500 per credit unit, or $1500 per 3-credit unit course, that would be $750 savings per course. If a student takes all eight courses in the MAP, they will save $6000. And if he or she takes the six field education credits associated with any six MAP courses, they save an additional $1500 for an overall savings of $7500.
2. Future EPC Pastors, who will be able to study ministry related, skill-based courses the way they should always have been taught—applying what they are learning while they are studying.
3. EPC Churches, which will be able to call pastors who haven’t just acquired information from lectures or books, but have gained practical experience applying what they’ve learned.
4. The Entire EPC Denomination, which will develop a growing subculture of ministerial leadership development—one that believes that the current generation of pastors should help to mentor the next generation of pastors.
5. EPC Pastor-Mentors, as they discuss courses and projects with their students, learn important things about themselves and “relearn” important things about ministry. Processing subjects out loud that they haven’t studied for years—talking about their past experiences and current challenges—provides a refreshing continuing education program for mentors.
A student completing at least seven of the eight MAP courses will earn a Certificate of Completion from Gordon-Conwell. This program is available to students pursuing either an M.Div. or an M.A., or simply wanting certification of study in ministry. It is even available to students without a bachelor’s degree who wish only to improve their knowledge and skills. This is an ideal program for any non-ordained church or parachurch staff person.
DOCTOR OF MINISTRY PROGRAM
Gordon-Conwell has developed a D.Min. path that will build upon the work of pastor-mentors. The first cohort began in February 2018, with an emphasis “Pastoral Theology in Practice.” Modules focused on preaching and teaching in the Tirst year, then leadership, pastoral care, and counseling in subsequent years. This will allow for much personal development, but the various projects for each module will also allow focus on how we, as individuals and as a denomination, might better prepare the next generation of preacher-teachers, leaders, and pastoral counselor-caregivers.
There will continue to be a certain number of candidates for ordination who have already completed their M.Div. degree, but may have not taken all the courses required by their denomination. The EPC has made special arrangements to have all eight MAP courses available for anyone willing to register without credit or transcription at $350 per course.
2017 GA PRESENTATION
Report of the Interim Committee on Ministerial Education to the 37th EPC General Assembly, presented by committee chair Fred Lian with an introduction of the Mentored Apprenticeship Program, presented by MAP Director Kent Mathews.