Guidelines for Teaching & Affiliated Congregations

Teaching and Affiliated Congregation Guidelines

The Master of Divinity program at Lexington Theological Seminary places the congregation at the center of the process of forming women and men to be thoughtful, theologically informed ministers.  The Seminary welcomes Teaching Congregations as partners in preparing men and women for leadership in church and society.  In order to assure that together we prepare people for ministry, we use the following guidelines as a covenant of learning.

A.       Teaching Congregations – Churches that have a student in the M.Div. program are encouraged to understand themselves as Teaching Congregations. This involves these components:

  1. Working Conditions – The willingness to provide adequate working conditions, a clear description of work expectations, a conflict resolution process, an evaluation process and, a contractual agreement where appropriate. This would include office space, supplies, a clearly designated  person to whom the student reports. The church will provide a minimum of 10 hours of ministerial work per week.
  2. Ministry Support Committee – The provision of a Ministry Support Committee of three to five people that meets monthly with the student to explore issues of ministry and provide feedback. When the student is doing the Capstone Project at the end of the program, this committee will be expected to provide written evaluations of the Capstone Project.
  3. Focus on Student Learning – The willingness of the church to make a formal decision (Board, Council, Session, Vestry, Elders and congregation) to participate in the education of women and men for ordained ministry. This means that the church asks itself what opportunities for learning it can offer in addition to what kind of assistance it needs. The church will remember that the student has significant academic expectations in the Master of Divinity program.
  4. Spiritual Companions – The willingness of ministers and laity to be spiritual companions in the mentoring and training of the student. Teaching Congregations often affirm this in worship using a litany of commitment;
  5. Broad Exposure to Ministry – A willingness to develop a position or provide opportunity that allows the student to experience the full range of ministry (pastoral, worship, preaching, educational, administrative, societal) and to exercise some genuine responsibility for that ministry;
  6. Being a Caring Community – A willingness to be who the church understands itself called to be as the church, showing the student what inspires the church to be itself;
  7. Honesty – A willingness to be open about the needs of the congregation and the community, including the unmet needs, and why the church expresses care as it does.

B.       Affiliated Congregations – A Church that has a student in the M.Div. program and has chosen not to become a Teaching Congregation or wants additional time to consider will be understood as an Affiliated Congregation with the Seminary. The church would fulfill the guidelines in number 1 above under Working Conditions, would make a formal decision to recognize the Affiliated Congregation relationship with the Seminary and would consider ways to connect the student to a breadth of ministry experiences that support the student’s formation and work within the M.Div. program.