The seminary classroom has traditionally been the place to ground students in the biblical, theological and historical heritage of the Church. Theories that under-gird the practice of ministry are taught and competencies for ministry are addressed and assessed. And, all of this is done with a view to prepare students as whole persons. This means that seminary students do the hard work of experiencing personal transformation and sometimes healing as they journey through a three-year curriculum. But, the nature of preparation for ministry in a seminary requires that students learn by doing. Can you imagine a better classroom than working shoulder to shoulder with the people of God in ministry? You are entering into a covenantal relationship which will change, challenge and support the student.
A covenant is more than a contract: “Contracts are based on responsibilities; covenants are based on relationships. Contracts establish boundaries and bind; covenants provide for growth and becoming. Contracts are legalistic and enforceable; covenants focus on accountability and redemption. Our use of covenant is intentional. It has grown out of our covenantal relationship with God. God’s covenant with us colors and shapes our understanding of our covenanting with each other. Your covenant [with your student intern] will provide structure for your relationship. . . .” (Experiencing Ministry Supervision, p. 51).
These relationships extend far beyond the obvious relationship between student and supervisor. The covenant establishes relationships between the seminary and the student, the seminary and the supervisor, the student and the congregation/ministry site — and ultimately between the seminary, student, supervisor and the greater mission of Christ’s Church.
Next: Developing the Covenant