When CTS reinvented the MDiv in 2015, faculty sought to enhance the Supervised Ministry program with a robust field learning program that exposes students to multiple congregations and diverse approaches to community ministry. This program is called Learning Ministry Together (LMT).
Working with pastoral leaders at area churches, MDiv students experience how varied leadership styles and church congregations work together to cultivate flourishing ministries. As they move through LMT, students ponder different perspectives on church leadership and connect classroom learning with purposeful field work, which in turn benefits the partnering church. During the second year of the LMT experience, students embark on a long-term service experience. In tandem, the LMT first and second-year experience provides cohorts with a depth and breadth of practical field experience.
Participating pastors enjoy viewing their ministry through students’ eyes, establishing a mutually engaging model that connects theological education with the real-world work of the church. A student supervisor is assigned to work with each student enrolled in LMT and serves as a liaison with students and pastoral leaders.
During their first year of seminary, new MDiv students work with pastoral leaders at two churches per semester. According to Martin Wright, interim director of Supervised Ministry and minister at Ogilville Christian Church, LMT is designed to deliver an experience that exposes students to visionary leaders and lets students see there are many unique ways to “do ministry.”
“Learning Ministry together is an amazing opportunity for students to see what really great ministry can look like across a broad context of ministries — from churches that have a very progressive perspective to more conservative-leaning congregations,” he said. LMT engages students in each church’s work — including long-term ministries as well as seasonal service projects such as a recent distribution of smoke detectors to neighbors in need. After experiencing four unique church ministries during their first year in seminary, each student will select one church to work with during the remainder of their time as a CTS student.
Wright says the program is validating for ministry leaders, too, because it can help leaders take a step back and reframe their vision. Rev. Philip James, pastor at Mt. Zion Baptist Church agrees. “LMT affords me the opportunity to get in the balcony and reflect on what’s happening in the church and in the world,” he says. “The program helps students discern their sense of calling as they prepare for ministry.” At Mt. Zion, for example, students helped the church strengthen its visitor retention efforts, and have assisted the 146-year-old church identify and research grant opportunities that will fund new programs.
The Supervised Ministry experience currently connects MDiv students with four Indianapolis-area churches: Central Christian Church, Mt. Zion Baptist Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and Common Ground. To explore how your church can become involved, contact the Supervised Ministry office at CTS:
Rev. Martin Wright, Interim Director of Supervised Ministry
Ms. Karen Kelm, Administrative Assistant