Supervised Ministerial Practice.
The Drew Theological School faculty has long recognized the importance of experiential learning in relationship to preparation for full-time Christian services in the Church and the world. Because of that recognition, Supervised Ministerial Practice is a requirement in the Master of Divinity Program. This requirement, which is normally fulfilled in the second year of study, involves a nine-month placement in a ministry setting in which the student works under the close supervision of a seasoned pastor or director of an agency and a lay evaluative committee called the “Teaching Committee.” Through regular conversations with the supervisor and lay committee, seminarians are enabled to discuss issues vitally important to the practice of ministry in today’s church and world and to make new discoveries about themselves as ministering persons as they develop the necessary skills for leadership.
The website is intended to introduce you to our program in the hope that you and your church or agency will become involved in the training of a seminarian. Through this important program, students discern with greater clarity the nature of their call to ministry and grow in their ability to link the lessons of the ministry setting with the lessons of the classroom. Such integrated thinking is vitally important in the complex world in which we live today. As you participate in the education and formation of our students you are in ministry to the future church and world in an important and exciting way. The Theological School faculty and staff are grateful to you for partnering with us in this important way to shape future leaders for ministries in the world.
The Master of Divinity degree program at Drew Theological School is an 84-credit degree. Students take required courses in Bible, Church History, Theology and Ethics, Church and Society, and Pastoral Theology. The Supervised Ministry requirement comprises 6 of these credits.
When a student registers for Supervised Ministry, it is understood that he/she will be working in a church or agency for an academic year and while being enrolled in the required Seminar on Supervised Ministerial Practice. Students must work in ministry settings for a minimum of 12–15 hours per week to receive credit. Working fewer hours significantly contributes to a feeling of “being a visitor” to the setting instead of helping the student to know and be known by the members of the ministry setting. 12–15 hours per week in a ministry setting has proven the optimum amount of time as it allows for the development of trust in and among the Teaching Committee and helps the student, therefore, be more open to the committee’s feedback and evaluation throughout the year.
To assist students in the process of vocational clarification that is central to this experiential learning program, students must be exposed to the multiplicity of tasks and opportunities facing the pastoral leader or agency administrator. Administration and budget planning, building relationships in the community, pastoral care, education, worship, outreach ministry and spiritual formation are some areas in which our students need experience and guided reflection if they are to become better able to offer leadership in the future.
It is expected that the student will be assigned responsibility for a given program area in the church or agency. In a church setting, the student may be asked to take responsibility for the education area and be expected to resource teachers in addition to teaching a class. In an agency setting, the student might be asked to design and develop an outreach program to meet the needs of a particular segment of the community in which the agency is located. Regardless of the primary area in which the student works, it is our hope that he/she will be encouraged and allowed to work in other areas as time allows. No student should finish Supervised Ministry in a church setting without having made, for example, pastoral visitations in homes and hospitals; assisted in leading worship at least twice a month; preached at least three times in the nine month period; participated in planning and leading funeral services; and attended various committee meetings in order to better understand the polity of the church. Likewise, in an agency setting, students should have exposure to and experience with budget development and monitoring; practice in addressing community gatherings on behalf of the agency; and direct participation in the operations of the agency.
This broad exposure will help everyone involved in the evaluation process of the program to be better informed about the student’s abilities and aptitude for ministry.
The Rev. Dr. Johnnie McCann is the Senior Pastor of the St. Luke Baptist Church in New York City. A member of the supervised ministry faculty since 2002, Dr. McCann received his MDiv, STM and DMin degrees from Drew Theological School. Dr. McCann is the editor of Lift the Veil and the author of numerous works including Christian Stewardship: A Lordship Factor and How to R.E.A.C.H. Black Men for Christ.
The Rev. Dr. Grace Pak is an ordained Elder in Full Connection in the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. She was ordained in 1995 and has been in full-time local church ministry since. She has been a part of the Supervised Ministry faculty team since 2002. Dr. Pak received her BA in psychology from SUNY at Stony Brook and her MDiv and DMin from Drew Theological School. She is currently serving as the pastor at the Embury United Methodist Church in Little Silver, New Jersey.
One of the primary means of growth for the novice in any vocation is the evaluative process. Theologically understood, evaluation can be a means of grace at it enables the one being evaluated to see the self more clearly and to improve one’s work in helpful and redemptive ways.
To this end, the Theological School has in place structures of accountability within the Supervised Ministry program:
This important document written early in the semester serves as a reference point for the academic year. It includes both the responsibilities of the student in the church or agency and the student’s learning goals. This document invites the students to take responsibility for their own learning by clearly stating what they want to learn through the process. It is contractual in nature and it cannot be changed without all participants (student, supervisor, teaching committee) agreeing to the change. It also contains the terms of employment (dates of service, remuneration).
Students are expected to meet with the supervisor at least once every two weeks for a session of 60 to 90 minutes. The purpose of these sessions is to assist the student to think critically about ministry in both general and theological terms and the student’s practice of ministry and development in as a leader.
The Teaching Committee, made up of five to seven lay people in the church or agency, meets with the student monthly for the academic year. The Committee meetings serve as reflection groups in which issues facing the church or agency are discussed. The student’s ministry is also examined in some detail each month. These meetings, then, assist the student to understand and appreciate the vital role laity and others play in the ministry and work of the church or agency at the same time they help the student to see himself/herself more clearly as a leader.
Students are evaluated twice during the academic year. The December and April meetings of the Teaching Committee are to be set aside to do an overall evaluation of the student’s work to date.
Churches and agencies participating in Supervised Ministry Program agree to provide the following:
Many churches have asked about payment for student’s work in a church or agency. It is our belief that students should be paid for their work. Such an arrangement nurtures the investment and accountability of all involve. We recommend payment of $4000 for 12–15 hours per week of work from early September to late May. Churches or agencies that are not able to pay this amount are urged to contact the Office of Supervised Ministry to alert the Director about the situation.
The work that the supervisor and others do to help shape a seminary student for future ministry and advocacy work in the world is important work and the Theological School is grateful to all involved. We view this work as having a direct impact on the student’s development and future endeavors in ministry. As such, supervisors and Teaching Committees are linked to this future in a real and powerful way. Some ministry settings have understood this and funded a student through the mission line of the budget. Agencies have likewise funded a position through a community outreach line in the budget. If the Director can be of help in interpreting the program for others in this way, please contact the Office of Supervised Ministry at 973-408-3418.