Midwestern Seminary launched a new Master of Divinity track on Feb. 13 with the intent of enabling residential students not only to study for ministry in the classroom, but also to obtain hands-on, in-the-field training as well.

The new program, known as Timothy Track, will partner select incoming M.Div. students to serve as interns with local churches during their first two semesters in Kansas City.

The intent, according to Midwestern Seminary President Jason Allen, is to give these students practical experience in a ministry environment while studying toward their M.Div. degree on campus.

“Our mission at Midwestern Seminary is to exist for the church,” Allen said. “And yet, there is a sense in which the best way to train leaders for the church is to train them with the church. With that in mind, that’s the reason we’ve developed the Timothy Track.”

Allen further noted that this concept benefits both the students and the local churches.

“Not only do students receive direct, hands-on mentorship in a healthy local church, but they will receive a 50-percent tuition scholarship for their first year of studies,” Allen said.

“From the local church’s vantage point, they get the opportunity to invest in the next generation of ministry leaders, benefit from those students’ spiritual gifts and talents, identify potential future staff members, and share in the privilege of helping strengthen the church throughout the Kansas City metro area,” he added.

The primary difference between the Timothy Track program and Midwestern’s other M.Div. offerings is that the internship takes the place of the elective courses required in the other tracks.

As interns, students will immerse themselves in the local church environment, regularly attending their partner church’s worship services and serving at least eight hours weekly. Their time will be spent focusing on three areas: serving, leading, and learning.

In the area of “serving,” Timothy Track students will interact with the partner church’s staff and membership in supporting various programs such as food pantries or clothes closets; managing the church’s website, bulletin, or other communications pieces; or providing support as a research assistant to the pastor as he develops his sermons.

Students will also be encouraged to “lead” from time-to-time in areas such as teaching in Bible studies or Sunday school environments, spearheading a mission trip, or leading a worship time.

“Learning” will take place in a variety of formats, including opportunities for students to regularly attend and observe church staff and business meetings, and to have set meetings with their ministry mentors to discuss theology, the practice of ministry, areas for growth, and many other topics.

From an academic standpoint, Midwestern Seminary will walk alongside each Timothy Track student throughout his or her internship. The director of church partnerships at Midwestern will regularly be in contact with these students and hold set debrief sessions to answer questions and to ensure the interns are maximizing their experience. Students will also receive the in-class mentoring and support of their professors as they work toward the academic portion of their degrees.

The Timothy Track internships will begin in the fall semester of 2017. Qualifications for students include: hold a 3.0 GPA; maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout the internship; be recommended by both their church’s pastor as well as by a member in good standing; uphold biblical conduct as required in Midwestern Seminary’s handbook; and remain a member in good standing with their partner church.

Partner church qualifications include: membership in the Southern Baptist Convention; adherence to the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, the “Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,” the “Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy;” and dedication toward biblical, expositional preaching. Additionally, churches must be located within 40 miles of Midwestern’s campus, and have a senior pastor who has led the congregation for at least three years.

“It thrills me that Midwestern Seminary can partner with our local churches in such a way as to provide this sort of experience for our incoming M.Div. students,” Allen said. “This program is truly unique in that it offers layers of investment, by both Midwestern and the local church partners, in the spiritual and ministry growth of these interns.

“Of course, we are excited that this program provides our students with the opportunity for practically applicable ministry experience, but the hands-on mentorship of the student from the church’s pastor and staff, as well as Midwestern’s director of church partnerships, makes this program really stand out. We greatly look forward to seeing the results of these partnerships bearing much spiritual and ministry fruit in the years ahead.”

To learn more about Timothy Track, or to apply for the program, visit mbts.edu/timothytrack.