The Congregational Requirement—M.Div. Students
The purpose of Lexington Theological Seminary is to be a servant of the church preparing men and women for ministry in congregations through innovative instruction, flexible curriculum, congregational experience and compassionate engagement with the needs of society. The faculty, trustees and ministry partners of LTS understand ministry to be both a divine calling and a learned profession. For generations, the Seminary has partnered with congregations in forming students for ministry. The Seminary’s curriculum recognizes the congregation as the primary context where students integrate what they have learned in courses, their growing familiarity with and competence in the skills of ministry, and the practical wisdom about ministry generated by their participation in the life of the congregation. In turn, this integration in the congregational setting contributes to their learning in courses. Therefore, all M.Div. students at LTS are required to engage in an accountable work role in a congregation through all levels of the M.Div. program when they are enrolled in courses.
The congregational requirement is designed to support the intellectual, practical, and spiritual goals of the M.Div. curriculum. For most courses in the M.Div. curriculum, the instructors have identified goals of all three types and have included at least one assignment to be completed within the context of students’ congregations that will help them meet one or more goals. In the course of the M.Div. program, students also complete Competency Exercises and a Capstone Project, all of which involve projects carried out in the congregation. In short, students are called to live what they are learning in the classroom and congregations are called to serve as learning contexts for M.Div. coursework. In addition, students are invited (though not required) to work with a Ministry Support Committee, a small group of congregation members that gathers regularly for support, feedback, and reflection.
For the congregational requirement, students should be exposed to the basic, various, and complex areas of ministry, including but not limited to worship, administration, education, pastoral care, mission, leadership, and public ministry. Involvement in all these areas of congregational life will ensure that they can complete congregational course assignments, competency exercises, and capstone project. By staying in a congregation throughout all three levels of coursework in the M.Div. curriculum, students will be challenged to practice ministry skills that are new to them as well as to change or hone those that are familiar. During these years, students are expected to grow toward competency in response to critical feedback and self-reflection.