Mentored Practice is a rigorous training program that enables students to engage in the praxis of ministry during their seminary experience. Through ministerial actions and theological reflection on those actions, students learn to incarnate the wisdom of a practical theologian. In this process, the qualified mentor and peers provide invaluable guidance and support; students are in constant contact with their mentors and meet with peers and a supervising professor in weekly seminars.
Individuals in Mentored Practice function and grow as ministers in church and other settings: shelters; campus ministry, crisis intervention, hospice, and hospital chaplaincy programs; youth detention centers; AIDS, jail, and homeless ministry settings; and on retreats. Additional environments, including some that are out-of-state, may also be approved.
Yet the Mentored Practice experience turns on theological reflection, the locus of which is the community of faith. Such reflection entails a dialogue between the student’s formal theological frameworks with the wisdom that comes from experiences in ministry. It enables her or him to integrate faith, knowledge, skills, and experience. It prepares the individual to shape a profound vision of ministry.
"The practical experience of serving churches and going to seminary at the same time helped to make me a more down-to-earth minister. At the start of my 46 years in ministry, most of which I spent as Senior Minister at Manhattan Beach Community Church in a suburb of Los Angeles, California, I had excellent professors at BTS who understood that you had to learn theology not in the ivory tower, but in the give and take of local parishes."