Seminary classrooms have much to offer in ministry preparation, but classrooms alone cannot prepare a man to shepherd God's flock. Pastoral ministry is a craft learned from pastors. Cornerstone's elders are committed to handing on the wisdom we have gained from years of training and experience to the next generation of leaders (2 Tim. 2:2).
We offer the opportunity to participate in a three-year pastoral training institute. This apprenticeship is a part-time commitment, involving time investments mostly on Mondays. Our goal is to train men in the development of knowledge, character, and skills required for service as pastors, church planters, and missionaries who will faithfully serve Christ and his church as we participate together in the fulfillment of Jesus’ Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20).
In order to develop the knowledge base of our apprentices, we work through a reading list that is focused on developing competence in the ministry of the Word, biblical theology, the doctrine of the church, the defense of the faith, missiology, and select theological issues that are pressing today, such as biblical sexuality, the doctrine of the atonement, and the doctrine of justification. Apprentices meet weekly with the program director, Pastor Aaron O'Kelley, for theological discussion on the readings with the aim of implementing the knowledge gained in practical ministry.
In order to develop the character of our pastoral interns, Cornerstone's elders seek to pastor them well, to guide them in addressing Scripture to their own hearts, to hold them accountable to moral standards worthy of the office of elder, to shepherd them either in marriage or toward marriage (as applicable), to help them fight sin that remains in them, and to cultivate in them a deeper love for God and for the church. The broader life of the Cornerstone church community plays an essential role in shaping the hearts of our leaders-in-training.
In order to develop the skills of our pastoral apprentices, we welcome their involvement in meetings for weekly sermon preparation, elders’ meetings, our counseling class, and occasional public preaching and teaching opportunities, as well as additional avenues of leadership that are suited to their gifts. Apprentices proceed by stages into increasing levels of training and responsibility as they progress through the years of our training institute.
Members or pastors of other churches are welcome to participate in Cornerstone's pastoral training institute to the extent possible for them. We are eager to train brothers at various levels of participation in order to help strengthen other churches.
Upperclassmen at Union University are encouraged to apply. Participants in the first year of our training institute can earn up to six hours of credit toward a bachelor’s degree through Union’s Christian Ministries Mentorship class.
Pastoral apprentices who are interested in pursuing seminary credit can earn up to 18 hours through the Ministry Apprenticeship Program of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary during any year of participation. In addition, Jackson, Tennessee, is the location of an extension center of SBTS, where classes are offered on Monday nights toward the completion of a Master of Divinity degree. We train seminarians, non-seminarians, and seminary graduates, but seminarians in particular have ample opportunities with us to benefit from both the training of pastors in a church setting while also learning in a seminary classroom.
Although the options are flexible and can be uniquely tailored to the particularities of each situation, here is an ideal “road map” of what each year would involve:
Begin as a Union upperclassman, earning six hours of credit toward a bachelor’s degree. Learn fundamental skills in theology and practice of ministry. Preach and teach in “apprentice only” settings.
Earn 18 hours of seminary credit through SBTS. Gain deeper knowledge of theological concepts and grow in wisdom in their application. Join weekly elders’ meetings for pastoral oversight. Preach or teach occasionally in public settings.
Take on a more regular role in public ministry, either at Cornerstone or with a partnering church in the area. Under the guidance of Cornerstone’s elders, gain wisdom and direction for the next step of ministry. Once a ministry placement has been determined, successful completion of our pastoral training institute leads naturally toward ordination at Cornerstone.
Occasionally, housing and/or part-time pay are made available to select apprentices who take on additional responsibilities of labor for the church. You are welcome to inquire at any time regarding openings for these positions.
If you have questions or want to begin the application process, please fill out the form below: