Student Mentor RequirementsA mentor is required for the Diploma in Biblical Studies and the Master of Arts in Religion Degree. It is not required for the Certificate in Bible program.
Why do I need a mentor?
The English poet John Donne reminds us that no one of us is an island. Yet we live in a culture that teaches us to be self-reliant and independent, ignoring our profound need for connection and interdependence. We are told to stand on our own two feet. But that assumes that we have no need to learn from others who have gone before us.
The fact that you have enrolled in this graduate study program tells us that you want to learn from others. You have chosen a program in which you will learn from world-renowned scholars whose teaching has been captured for the courses in this CUGN program. In addition to the lectures by these outstanding professors, you will have an online instructor who will interact with your posts, quizzes and major papers, giving you useful feedback.
While the Online Instructor will interact with your assimilation of the cognitive content of the course, we believe you also need a mentor at your side as you move through your chosen study program. Why? A good mentor will walk with you, dialogue with you about the content of the course, but will also help you connect the course content in practical ways to your daily life and work. It is possible for theological studies to seem remote and unconnected to your immediate surroundings. A good mentor will ask the kind of questions that will help you build bridges from your studies to your work for Christ and His kingdom.
What should I look for in a good mentor?
Obviously the first criterion is that your mentor shares your faith convictions, at least to the degree that the two of you can dialogue from a shared faith in God and in Scripture.
The second criterion is that your mentor has traveled some part of the road ahead of you and can bring helpful experience and knowledge to your relationship. Stanley and Clinton define a mentor as "one who knows or has experienced something" and is able to strengthen your capacity to grow, develop or change. So look for someone who has some God-given resources like wisdom, information, experience, confidence, insight, etc.
The third criterion is that your mentor is accessible. You need to meet face-to-face twice during the eight-week course period, and in between you can be mentored through email or by telephone. But you need to find a mentor who is able to give you some time over the course of your studies. You may be tempted to seek mentoring from some well-known individual who simply cannot give you the time that good mentoring will require; don't yield to that temptation! Be realistic about choosing a mentor who is accessible. Your mentor may also be asked to respond to a brief email from the course instructor for additional feedback regarding the mentor relationship.
A fourth criterion is that a good mentor understands that the relationship is a conversation, one that neither one of you should dominate. The mentor is not "the sage on the stage," but your "guide alongside." Choose someone who knows how to listen, but who also knows how to keep you from dumping a stream-of-consciousness outpouring that is not true conversation (dialogue).
After completing Core 1 courses, you will be required to seek out a mentor in your community with whom you can communicate by email and/or telephone and with whom you can meet face-to-face at least twice during each of the remaining courses in your chosen program. While mentoring relationships can be long-term, you may want to invite your mentor to join you only for the first segment of the Core 2 courses until you and your mentor can see whether this is a mutually fruitful relationship. Obviously it is well if you are both satisfied with the mentoring relationship and this person can mentor you through the remainder of your courses.
Following are ideas that will assist you in the dialogue with your mentor.
You are required to have at least two face-to-face meetings with your mentor during the course you are taking. The following are suggestions of ways in which those meetings could be used to most benefit to you as you seek to apply what you are learning to your life and ministry.
Meeting #1 (During the first week or second week in the semester)
- Discuss your overall purpose in pursing a higher level theological degree.
- Establish goals for growth during this course including areas such as self-discipline, spiritual development, academic accomplishment, ministry focus, etc.
- Discuss specific ways that this course might be of benefit to you by examining together the learning objectives for the course (available in the course syllabus).
- Set a means by which you and your mentor can communicate when you are not able to meet face-to face.
- Set a date and time, if possible, for your second meeting to occur during or immediately prior to the final week of classes.
- Pray together.
Meeting #2 (During the final week of the semester)
- Review the goals set at the outset of the course and discuss the degree to which you have achieved them.
- Talk about specific ways in which this course has affected your thinking, your theology, and/or your ministry.
- Submit the completed mentor evaluation assignment. It is essential that this assignment be in CUGN’s files within a week of completion of the final lesson of the course.
- Pray together.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Although this course requires only two face-to-face meetings, your mentor relationship will be most meaningful if you stay in touch with one another by telephone and/or e-mail at least weekly during the course and if you pray for one another daily.
Please provide the following document to your mentor to assist in their interaction with you during your course of study.
Information for Potential Mentors