Churches Raising Up Pastors – Charles Simeon Trust


9Marks wants to see more churches and pastors taking responsibility for raising up the next generation of pastors. To help our readers catch a vision for what that might look like, we asked several organizations closely tied to one or several local churches how they fulfill this mission. With one exception, each of the following organization answers the same 18 questions.

Here are the Charles Simeon Trust’s answers (submitted by David Helm and Robert Kinney). The Simeon Trust is based out of Chicago, Illinois.

  1. Organization name
    Charles Simeon Trust
  2. Year began
  3. What’s the relationship between the organization and a local church?
    We exist to serve the local church, especially the pastor, who is charged with the exalted task of preaching and teaching God’s Word.As such, our relationship with local churches runs along one of two lines: several churches are now committed to hosting pastors in their region of the country for an annual „workshop on biblical exposition.“ Secondly, we fund a residential internship program for promising men heading into ministry (working with a few churches in the Chicago area) and an online training program (presently we are actively in relationship with five churches).
  4. How many students per semester or year?
    More than 500 pastors attended our workshops on biblical exposition in the past year. In addition, sixteen individuals are receiving ministry exposure, mentoring, and classroom instruction in our residential training program. Our online training program has seven students.
  5. What’s the length of the program?
    The workshops on biblical exposition are offered regionally and last for three days.The internship program can vary between one and six years in length, depending on the participants place in life (there are three phases to the program: candidacy, internship, and then, residency).
  6. Does the program cost? How much?
    Pastors attending a workshop on biblical exposition are asked to pay $99 (the actual cost for running the conference is much higher, but our financial partners are intent on making sure that money doesn’t keep anyone away). Our training programs are presently free. In fact, many of our students are being paid stipends or salaries.
  7. Is it full time? Are students allowed/required to be doing something else (work, study) at the same time?
    Depending on the student’s classification, they might be involved anywhere from 10 hours per week to a full-time commitment. The only time our residential program requires someone’s full time attention is when they have reached the residency-phase of training. (Our model closely resembles the medical model—the closer one is to finishing, the more involved they become in the work).As part of their training, our students are heavily involved in their home churches as volunteers, interns, and pastoral residents. A first or second year student will likely be employed elsewhere or finishing college. A third or fourth year student will likely be attending seminary on a part-time or full-time basis. A fifth or sixth year student will be fully employed at a church.In our online training program, the students spend 3 to 5 hours per week on classroom work. Their ministry involvement and mentorship will vary with their involvement and employment at their training church.

    On the other hand, our workshops on biblical exposition are one-off commitments of three days and intended for those who are already serving in full-time pastoral ministry.

  8. Is housing made available for students? Cost?
  9. What are the program’s goals?
    As an organization, our goal is to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world by training up the next generation of expositional preachers.In our workshops on biblical exposition, we aim to increase the preacher’s confidence in God’s Word as well as his ability to handle it rightly. In pursuit of this purpose, we have articulated four goals for our workshops:

    1. Men in pastoral ministry today need to be convinced that preaching and teaching is the primary calling of pastoral ministry.
    2. We must encourage the men who pastor churches that this is work they can do.
    3. They must be shown how to approach the biblical text in ways that will assist their progress.
    4. We must help men see the big picture regarding what God has said and done in Scripture (fostering biblical theology). We do this through instructional talks, model expositions, and small-group exercises in biblical texts.

    Our training program for men heading into ministry takes a slightly different tact. While we begin with the workshop curriculum, we don’t stop there—we build upon it. Our aim for our training students is to help them develop the right instincts for ministry. In other words, we want them to see how expository preaching and teaching is the engine that drives ministry. We do this in three ways:

    1. hands-on training (complete with a ministry description developed in the local church);
    2. a mentoring relationship with the pastor;
    3. classroom instruction that explores the Bible through literary genre and numerous other facets of pastoral ministry.
  10. What’s involved in the application process?
    Our residential training program relies on host churches to select their own students. This is typically done through some combination of written application (conveying testimony, desire for training, etc.) and an interview. As mentorship is a key component of our training program; student selection includes a personal relationship between the student and the mentoring pastor.Our workshops are open to men serving in full-time ministry and do not include an application. Generally they register online for one in their part of the country by visiting and hitting the link to workshops.
  11. Can you give a brief overview of how the program works from the student’s standpoint?
    We run a series of workshops around North America on a yearly basis. These workshops are intended for men already in full-time preaching and teaching ministry and function as a kind of „continuing education“ component. While we limit our participation to men because of theological commitments, we are working toward a 2010 „women in ministry“ workshop due to our desire to see women teaching women God’s Word in a variety of full-time ministry settings.We distinguish our workshops from other „conferences“ since our workshops are intended for preaching pastors (not other ministry leaders or Sunday school teachers). Further, we expect our participants to show up having already completed some „pre-workshop“ assignments on the biblical text before coming (golf clubs are left at home!).The workshops themselves consist of six instructional sessions which convey the tools for understanding and teaching the Bible in an expository way, three model expositions, and four small group workshop times for the participants to work on their own preaching. These small groups are made up of eight pastors and are led by a leader who went through a special leader’s training. We find that men return home invigorated to make progress in their own preaching. And we hope that their churches will be strengthened in the gospel as a result.Residential Training
    We have worked with a few churches in the Chicago area for about nine years on a training program called the „Chicago Plan.“ The program itself brings together what we think are the three elements of a good residential training scheme: classroom instruction, ministry exposure, and mentorship. Our classroom instruction consists of a 90 minute meeting each week that will include many activities: instructions on preaching and teaching, lectures from guest speakers and academics on particular issues of biblical studies or ministry, practice times for the students to work on their own exposition skills, book discussions, and weekly Greek lessons. Ministry exposure occurs in a student’s home church. Some students teach an adult or cross-generational Bible study; others do full-time pastoral ministry (at an apprentice level). This depends fully on their experience and their year in the program. Mentorship consists of a series of small-group and one-on-one meetings, both formal and informal, between a student and a mentor pastor. We are fairly selective about who can serve as a mentor pastor and so this naturally limits how large the program will become.

    The first two years are the „Candidacy“ level. Candidates are typically engaged full-time elsewhere (undergraduate school or full-time employment), but they explore full-time ministry through our weekly classroom meetings, approximately 10 hours per week of church ministry involvement, and a light schedule of mentorship. At the end of each year of „Candidacy,“ the mentor pastor and the student evaluate the student’s fitness for ministry.

    The second phase of training is the „Internship“ level. Here the student is definitely headed toward full-time ministry and so is going to seminary either part-time or full-time. Their church ministry involvement is formalized and they begin to take on leadership roles in various ministry outlets (usually requiring 15 to 20 hours per week). Their mentorship also becomes more hands-on.

    The final phase is the „Residency“ level. Here the student is finishing up any lingering seminary requirements and working full-time for a local church.

    In addition to the various levels of commitment, the Charles Simeon Trust funds the students at various levels. To summarize:

    Candidacy 10 hours of ministry not funded
    Internship 15-20 hours of ministry $5,000/$7,500
    Residency full-time ministry $24,000 to $32,000

  12. In addition to the above scheme, we are now getting applicants who are already through seminary or are in an academic setting (in theology or biblical studies) but still committed to the local church. As such, we have designed a special category called „Fellowship.“ An „Academic Fellow“ can serve the church on a project basis (such as giving lectures in their field or writing Bible studies for the church); a „Pastoral Fellow“ can serve part-time but is otherwise is considered like a Resident. These fellowships generally require two-year commitments.Online Training
    One of the most exciting initiatives we are presently undertaking is something called „The Simeon Course on Biblical Exposition.“ The idea is to make available a training course on biblical exposition anywhere there is an Internet connection (from American farmlands to the urban slums of Nairobi). For the seminary student/graduate and the working pastor, this course fills in gaps in their training and provides a sharper focus on that most central activity: the preaching of God’s Word. For the lay preacher, elder, Sunday school teacher, missionary, and pre-seminary student, the course provides the basics of how to prepare and deliver a lesson from the Bible (and leads toward alternative certification or even seminary credentialing).

    The Simeon Course itself consists of a series of classes on preaching, preaching from distinctive biblical-literary genres, biblical and systematic theologies as they relate to preaching, and the like. We are presently running classes on preaching and literary genres, and we’re developing the curriculum for the biblical theology class.

    The Course runs along two tracks: mentored training and flexible training. The mentored training track functions on the same principles as our residential training, and we work hard to include the same three components: classroom instruction, ministry exposure, and mentorship. It presently includes six to eight students from geographically diverse churches. Presently, we have seven students from five churches: from Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, St. John’s Shaughnessy Church in Vancouver, Holy Trinity Church in Chicago, College Church in Wheaton, and Christ the Redeemer Church in Spokane. The pastors at some of these churches (Phil Ryken, David Short, David Helm, Paul Rees) as well as other guest pastors and professors provide much of the content, the video lectures, and the video-conferences. The students are mentored by their pastors and receive their ministry exposure in their home churches.

    The students gather in Chicago for an in-person orientation and will gather once more in May to complete in-person assessments. Throughout the year, the students are assigned videos, audio lectures/sermons, and readings. This material has been provided by the pastors at each of the participating churches as well as by experts in the field (through our relationships with domestic seminaries as well as the Proclamation Trust in London and Matthias Media in Sydney). The students then interact over this material via video-conferencing, online chats, and message boards. Additionally, they are each responsible for contributing written assignments, audio or video assignments, and other forms of assessment that will measure progress. Some of this work is collaborative.

    The best way to describe this track is with the word „integrated.“ The idea is that it combines the best of both worlds: seminary-level coursework on preaching and teaching the Bible (which strangely, is becoming rarer and rarer in the seminary) with the experience and strength of church-based residential training. What’s more, it brings together young men and their pastors from widely diverse contexts in order to inform and sharpen each other’s work.

    Students who have completed a minimum set of classes and completed their mentorships and ministry experiences will receive a certificate of completion of the Simeon Course (and may also receive credit for some portion of an M.Div). We have recently been given approval by Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield to submit our students for credit for the two classes on biblical genre. When we are running the full course, our students will be able to get TEDS credits for passing our courses and apply them to a seminary degree to be completed at Trinity or other seminaries.

    This track, as it relies on the residential training programs of local churches, is highly selective and admits students on an invitation-only basis. The Simeon Trust must be in a good relationship with both the „home church“ and the „mentoring pastor“ to even consider admitting a student.

    The flexible training track works very similarly to the mentored track, only without the requirements of being mentored by an approved pastor and being involved in pastoral-type ministry. This track is ideal for pastors who have been to our workshops but desire more extensive training than we can provide in a three-day workshop. It can serve as a refresher for those pastors. This track also helps Sunday school teachers, missionaries, elders and lay-preachers develop their skills at opening God’s Word.

    These students will also work together in small clusters on their „virtual classroom“ material, which allows them to sharpen one another while sharing practical techniques for teaching the Bible.

    The first two classes on teaching the Bible from biblical-literary genres will be launched publicly in autumn 2009 and registration will be available this spring. The registration cost will be kept intentionally low as the Charles Simeon Trust is dedicated to making this training available in places where money can prevent participation (internationally, in rural areas, and in the inner-city). Those students wishing to receive graduate credit from TEDS will have additional tuition charges.

    The mentored training track will be testing new classes this coming year, hopefully to be made available for the flexible training track in 2010.

  13. What responsibilities does the student have in a typical week?
    See above.
  14. Any further opportunities or responsibilities for the student?
    See above.
  15. How many pastors are involved, how are they involved, and what’s the cost on their time?
    Pastors in Leadership
    Residential Training: In Chicago, we have five pastors involved in mentoring and two who regularly teach the weekly training meetings. They give 5 to 10 hours per week.Online Training: In North America, we have six additional pastors involved in mentoring and involved in their own local training schemes, producing video lectures and at least 2 video-conferences per year. They give at least a few hours per week to the Charles Simeon Trust in addition to their own local training commitments (on average 5 to 10 hours per week).Workshops: We have about 15 pastors located throughout North America who speak at our workshops a few times each year. Their commitments are probably 50 to 60 hours per workshop (not including travel time). We also bring in a few outside guest speakers for our workshops, who give the same.
  16. How many non-pastoral staff involved and what do they do?
    In paid positions: a director of workshops coordinates the promotion and logistics for each of the workshops and maintains the relationships necessary with each of the host churches. A director of training coordinates the local training scheme and helps on the online training scheme. A coordinator for the online training course manages the student relationships and is involved in producing the content for the course. A seasonal webmaster works on online projects. And a director of ministries executes the overall ministry of the Simeon Trust under the direction of our executive director.
  17. What is this program good for accomplishing?
    Simply put, we are a one trick pony. All of our energies and resources are bent on a single passion: training up men to serve the church well by preaching God’s Word faithfully. Our love of Jesus Christ and our commitment to the gospel means that we do everything we can to help pastors get „the preaching part“ right. Our training is designed to facilitate this.While we are committed to the single aim mentioned above, we are also strongly convinced that the method of training is an indispensible part of achieving our aim. There is a reason that in both our residential and online training programs, mentorship and ministry in a church are required elements. Richard Baxter really captured the idea when he advised, „But (if you can) at first settle a competent time in the house with some ancient experienced pastor“ so that you can „learn as well as teach, and learn by his practice that which you must practice.“ In other words, expository ministry is „caught more than taught.“ And so, the residential quality of our training is meant to help the young man in ministry not just to learn about ministry, but to learn to live ministry.
  18. What is it not good for accomplishing?
    Everything else.
  19. Where are your graduated students now? What are they doing?
    Our men serve as pastors and teachers, missionaries and church planters.
David Helm

David Helm is one of the pastors of Christ Church Chicago in Chicago and Chairman of the Charles Simeon Trust.

Robert Kinney

Robert Kinney is the Director of Ministries at the Simeon Trust, a ministry for training preachers.

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