Your relationship with a congregation is an essential and required part of your seminary education and is designed to help you develop as a minister in several ways. Students find that their ongoing ministry work in a congregation (whether paid or volunteer) causes them to focus on their personal character, their vocation, their spiritual growth, and their ministerial skills.
This page outlines what you need to do, starting with enrollment at LTS and proceeding through your degree program.
• Identify the congregation that will serve as the context for your congregational requirement. You will be best served by identifying your congregation upon application to LTS, and if not then, prior to enrolling in courses. However, if necessary you will be granted a “grace period” of three credit hours during which you may enroll in courses without a congregational context. You will be unable to complete the congregational assignments of those courses but will be given alternative assignments
• Complete the Congregation Information Form. Give a copy to the person to whom you are accountable at your congregation. Submit the form upon enrollment in courses and if not then, by the time you have completed three credit hours of coursework. You will also complete this form annually by August 15 (see below).
• Recruit a Ministry Support Committee. A MSC is a group of 3-5 congregation members. They can meet with you regularly (e.g. quarterly) for support, feedback, and reflection on your experiences. They can also be useful when you have to convene a group of laypersons for a project related to a congregational course assignment, competency exercise, or capstone project. The group you recruit should reflect the diversity of the congregation and represent a cross-section of it. A MSC is strongly suggested but not required.
• Work with your Pastor and Congregation on arranging a Liturgy of Commitment.
• (if applicable) If you are already a member or staff person in your congregation, work to transition into a new role as a student minister in training.
• Spend a minimum of 10 hours per week at your congregation, seeking out and involving yourself in as wide a breadth of ministry experiences as appropriate and as time allows, and completing your congregational course assignments. These might include, e.g., preaching a sermon, teaching a lesson, designing a program, conducting a congregational analysis, or interviewing members about a course topic or project.
• Request exposure to ministries beyond your congregation (e.g. ecumenical and interfaith partnerships, prison ministries, community organizing, etc.), as needed for congregational course assignments and as time allows.
• Request resources necessary and sufficient for you to complete your ministry work (e.g., a job description, lines of accountability, workspace, budget).
• Meet quarterly, or often as necessary and desired, with your Ministry
• Support Committee if you have one. Solicit their support, feedback, and reflection.
• Each year that you are enrolled in the M.Div. program, update and submit the Congregation Information Form by August 15. You must continue to meet the congregational requirement as long as you are enrolled in the M.Div. program; therefore, if you fail to submit the Congregation Information Form annually by August 15, you will not be allowed to take further courses at LTS until the form has been submitted.
**NOTE: The annual form for is located within LTS Online and every student in the MDiv program will be enrolled into this course.
• Remain focused on your role as a learner and student minister in training. Solicit constructive feedback on your work from the pastor who supervises you, your MSC, and others in your congregation.
• Take care not to create unnecessary problems within your congregation and to handle conflicts appropriately. If a problem arises such that your congregation is unable or unwilling to partner effectively with the Seminary in your education, do not hesitate to contact the Dean.
• Should your accountable work role in your congregation come to an end (for any reason), you will inform the Coordinator and any professors whose courses you are taking. You will establish a relationship with a new congregation. You must continue to meet the congregational requirement as long as you are enrolled in the M.Div. program and therefore should be in a new congregation as soon as possible. If necessary, you will be granted a “grace period” of three credit hours during which you may continue to enroll in courses without a congregation. You will be unable to complete the congregational assignments of those courses but will be given alternative assignments. If you still do not have an accountable work role in a congregation by the end of the grace period, you will not be allowed to take further courses at LTS until you have one. You will be allowed only one grace period, beyond any initial grace period, during the course of your M.Div. program.