The Mission of the Church
In Matthew 28:19-20a, Jesus gave his disciples the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations. This commission defines the mission of the church in three ways: reach the lost, disciple believers, and multiply Kingdom transformation into every nation. Fellowship Pacific is a group of churches committed to pursuing the mission of the church in obedience to Jesus’ call.
The Need for Leaders
While the above is true, we’re also aware of another reality: missional effectiveness requires well-trained leaders. Effective pastoral ministry leaders possess a spiritual gifting toward the task of ministry leadership, that gift needs to be developed and matured in order to be deployed in Kingdom service.
Over time, several pathways toward leadership development have emerged: leaders may choose to go to seminary to receive formal education, they may choose to find vocational work in ministry and learn on-the-job, or they may craft some combination of the two. These approaches have their strengths, but they also share a key weakness: theory and application are never fully integrated.
The Immerse Philosophy
What if we could do things differently? What if it was possible to integrate high-quality, biblically-faithful theological education with robust hands-on learning in the context of ministry? We believe that this approach is possible through the Immerse program.
Partnership: We’re Better Together
Immerse is built on the idea of partnership. By working together, church pastors, seminary faculty, and denominational leaders can leverage their individual strengths into a collective whole that is more than merely the sum of its parts. In this approach, students benefit from a broad-based ministry leadership perspective, one that emphasizes the strengths of each party while compensating for their weaknesses.
Mentoring: Long-Term Guidance
As they work through the Immerse program, students are guided by a team of three mentors representing the partners described above. These mentors remain with the student throughout the program, an approach that allows for consistency and long-term evaluation of student leadership development and ministry effectiveness. Each mentor speaks with an equal voice.
Integration: Where Learning and Practice Align
Immerse is also built on the idea of integration. Instead of adding a list of academic tasks to a person’s already-full ministry plate, Immerse begins by asking what the student is already doing and shaping leadership development to that context.
Mastery: More Than a List of Tasks
A final philosophical foundation is mastery. The Immerse curriculum consists of 27 Ministry Leadership Outcomes that describe the characteristics of a fully-formed pastoral ministry leader across the dimensions of knowledge, skill, and character. It’s not about completing assignments and receiving grades as if education was a big checklist of tasks; instead, it’s about working on assignments that point to the mastery of Outcomes. Writing good research papers is important, but we’re also interested in whether what’s written is being practiced in the student’s life and ministry. In the same way, running excellent ministry programs is essential, but we’re also interested in those programs demonstrating the student’s grasp of solid theoretical foundations.
The Immerse Commitment
Participating in Immerse is a big commitment for students and mentors alike. In addition to committing to the full term of training, partnership requires specific elements.
In order to partner, churches must demonstrate overall health and a commitment to Fellowship Pacific, including full participation in Partnership 2016. Churches also agree to hire the Immerse student in whatever role is appropriate and arranging employment conditions that are conducive to the student’s full participation in the program.
Pastoral mentors should be prepared to devote a portion of their time to the work of mentoring the Immerse student and participating in the functions of the mentoring team, including assessing and evaluating student work and discussing student development plans. While this doesn’t involve a massive time commitment, it will require 2-4 hours every week.
Pastoral mentors, along with the other members of the mentoring team, are also required to participate in an Immerse orientation session upon entry into the program, and commit to attend semi-annual mentor training sessions occurring during the Student Intake Assessments in March and September. Mentors may also choose to participate in Immerse instructional seminars, exegetical workshops, and other program elements if time permits.
Students who go through the Immerse program will be endorsed for ministry within Fellowship Pacific, and it’s expected that all Immerse students will pursue vocational ministry employment in a Fellowship Pacific church upon their graduation, which may sometimes be the church in which they completed the program.
Immerse is an integrated learning program, and it’s difficult to say how much time a student will spend “doing school” vs. “doing ministry” because the program is designed to eliminate the distinction between those two categories as much as possible. No ministry leader spends 100% of his or her time doing ministry work—they also spend time reading, evaluating, and reflecting. Immerse is a way to add intentionality, structure, and accountability to that time.
With that being said, some things just need to be taught, and so Immerse students attend four, two-day instructional seminars each year (February, April, June, and November) where they learn deeply and interact with their colleagues. Additionally, students participate in an Immerse orientation and Logos Bible Software training session upon their intake, and are required to participate in two, semi-annual exegetical workshops per year. Each of these additional tasks occurs immediately before the instructional seminar (in June and November).
How Much Does It Cost?
If we’re committed to making ministry leadership training accessible to the widest number of candidates, then we also need to commit to making it affordable. For this reason, tuition in the Immerse program is fully covered via scholarship; there are, however, a few small fees to help cover the cost of the program, including an annual management fee (roughly $500), fees for each instructional seminar (roughly $100), and the cost of Logos Bible Software (roughly $400). The average annual cost to students to participate in the Immerse program is $1000; the total cost for a four-year degree is approximately $4500 (four annual fee cycles, plus Logos Bible Software). In contrast, the average M.Div. costs approximately $40,000.
How Can We Partner Together?
If what we’ve described above seems like a good idea to you, then let’s explore together what partnership looks like. Whether you’re a potential student, a potential mentor, or someone in a Fellowship Pacific congregation interested in developing leaders, we’d love to talk to you because we believe that if we own the responsibility for ministry leadership development together, we’ll see amazing gospel transformation in our region and beyond.
For more details you can contact the Immerse team through Eric Fehr (604-888-7592). We look forward to beginning the conversation with you!
View the Immerse Presentation