Supervised Ministry Practicum (SMP) is that part of the M.Div. curriculum wherein students receive training for leadership in vocational ministry capacities through courses in ministry practice and educational experiences within supervised ministry settings. SMP seeks to advance the growth of students toward: spiritual maturity, vocational clarification and ministry competence.

Program Overview and Requirements

The Supervised Ministry Practicum (SMP) affords students opportunities to learn and grow as ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ by observing others in the practice of ministry and receiving instruction from them, by engaging in the practice of ministry themselves, and by reflecting theologically on their ministry experiences. Students grow in spiritual maturity, in vocational discernment, and in ministry competence.

Supervised Ministry Practicum 1 & 2 (DVML 701 & 702) are required courses in the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree program. These courses must be taken in sequence, beginning in a fall semester and concluding in a spring semester. A student may begin the SMP sequence upon completion of DVHD 605 – Pastoral Theology.

The SMP requires that a student engage in ministry, under supervision, for no less than 12 hours per week for 35 weeks, beginning in early September and concluding in early May. The SMP is carried out in a ministry setting approved by Beeson’s Director of Contextual Learning. While most students will complete the SMP in a local church setting, approval is sometimes given to other ministry sites (e.g. Christian ministry organizations, chaplaincy positions, campus ministries). The ministry site must provide a student with ample opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the performance of ministry duties for which he or she is receiving training in other courses in the Beeson M.Div. curriculum. These include but are not limited to preaching and teaching the Scriptures, providing pastoral care and counsel, planning and leading ministries of worship, discipleship, evangelism, and missions, and various facets of ministry administration. Students are encouraged to consult with the  director of contextual learning concerning the ministry site(s) they are considering.

Supervision must be provided by a ministry mentor (normally on-site), subject to the approval of the contextual learning director. The ministry mentor plays a key role in the SMP experience. He/She should be qualified to provide helpful pastoral wisdom and ministry guidance, able to give the necessary time and attention to the student, and willing to engage the student personally on essential issues of a minister’s life and work. The SMP mentor functions as model, teacher, facilitator, coach, and friend.

Over the course of the 35-week practicum, students are expected to meet with their mentors no less than every other week. In these meetings, students report on their ministry experiences and reflect on the ways that God is teaching and forming them for ministry. Mentors will use this time to instruct students on ministry-related topics and to assist them in pursuing appropriate goals for learning and growth. All mentors must meet the Divinity School's qualifications and receive training for their role.

While engaged in ministry under supervision at the practicum site, SMP students also meet weekly for classroom instruction (during the fall and spring semesters). Students receive instruction on different areas of ministry practice, on topics related to pastoral life and work, and on theological reflection. SMP class meetings are occasionally devoted to small group meetings (Ministry Reflection Groups), for the purpose of group reflection on ministry development.

Students may register for Supervised Ministry Practicum 1 (DVML 701) in the same manner as for all other BDS courses, via the Banner system. However, by July 1 of the year in which they intend to begin the course sequence, students must also submit the following materials to the Contextual Learning Office for review and approval: SMP Proposal Form, Assumption of Risk, Release and Indemnity Agreement (signed, dated, and notarized), and a current resume of the prospective mentor (if not already on file in the Contextual Learning Office). Students who do not gain approval for the SMP site and mentor will be withdrawn from DVML 701.

Students are encouraged to consult with the contextual learning director or program assistant with questions regarding these requirements.

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