Hear what some of our students are saying about the Mentored Ministry process.
I think one key take away I have from this semester is that spirituality happens in the context of lives. This (reflection) group is very different from the accountability group I meet with here at the seminary. With seminary students the language is theologically refined and sometimes abstract and separated from our lives. With this group everything is grounded in their real-world lives. Holiness is about how they speak to their kids and how they love their wives. Sanctification is tested in the fires of the office and job site. Theology is not an abstraction, it is their life. They do not articulate their spiritual problems with fancy terms or even the right language, but they explain it in terms of relationships and real life temptations and the nitty gritty of the everyday. As a future pastor, seeing this contrasted with my own experience as a trained pastor-theologian has been invaluable.
One of the notable insights I received is how important it is to contextualize the Gospel to a particular ministry setting. I already knew this to a certain extent, as one cannot go through training here at Asbury without being exposed to the need for tailoring your message to the people hearing it. But being in a clinical setting where I was tasked to listen and learn from a mentor who was doing such a particularized and focused contextualization was something I would have been hard-pressed to glean by reading books or talking in class.
I was able to gather a lot of practical application from the weekly discussions of my classmates’ experiences as we offered insight and personal experience to working out each one’s scenario.
The reading for this semester’s class helped me to learn new ways to help others by re-forming my knowledge of other persons and what it means to help someone. Once more, God was using this MM602 class to teach me about empathy and compassion. The readings, classroom discussions, and case studies all reinforced God’s activity in my life. Five years at ATS and three years as a Biblical Studies TA gave me the background for relating Greek to Christian discipleship. Yet MM602 gave me the opportunity to impact the lives of others and find a way to apply my education and experiences. Throughout, God has confirmed me and encouraged me to pursue ministry through teaching. I know having a placement at ATS for Mentored Ministry is rare, but I would highly recommend this setting for other students who have a calling to teach. Such an experience has allowed me to further see teaching as an effective ministry outside the walls of the church.
The biggest connection between my Mentored Ministry experience and the Biblical witness is how Jesus spent much of his time in ministry to those on the fringes. In multiple classes, we discuss the necessity of social justice. It is completely different to discuss these principles theoretically and to actually participate in this type of ministry. One can cognitively believe we are called to minister to those on the fringes of society by reading and studying the life of Jesus, but it takes on a whole new meaning when you begin work in this type of ministry. I have been a witness to how great a need exists and how it is often pushed to the side in the plethora of ministries churches support. Jesus, being the Song of God, saw fit to spend a great deal of time with this group of people, and we would do well to do the same. Working with the homeless is difficult ministry. It is borderline impossible to measure success, and there is little to no gratitude for all one does.