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What Is the Purpose of Cornerstone's Apprenticeship?

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 2-3 year pastoral training program. This apprenticeship is a part-time commitment, involving time investments mostly on Mondays and Wednesdays. 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).

How Does It Work?

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.

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.

Is It a Paid Apprenticeship?

Yes, it is. Three apprentice positions per cohort are paid positions, providing a stipend sufficient to cover seminary tuition costs and more. We also have a house on our church property that is made available at no cost to one apprentice family or to a group of single apprentices. 

What about Seminary?

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. 

How Long Does the Program Take?

All paid positions continue for a duration of two years, during which time expectations for attending meetings, reading, putting in office hours, and serving the church in various ways apply. We encourage, but do not require, apprentices who have completed two years to stay around for an additional year of seminary classes at the extension center so that they can engage in various aspects of practical ministry in the church (preaching, teaching, elders' meetings, etc.) without the structured expectations of the first two years. Some apprentices may choose to complete a third year at one of our partner churches in the Cornerstone Network.

If you have questions or want to begin the application process, please fill out the form below:

Thank you!

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