ITC Pastoral Training Ministry

At Indian Trail Church, we are committed to the process of pastoral training in the local church. Below is a description of this ministry.

THE OBJECTIVE
Our goal is help men who desire to serve as pastors in the local church mature in their understanding and ministering of the Gospel so that we can confirm them as qualified men who we pray God will use to plant and/or strengthen churches in the Gospel.

Below are the practical steps we use to accomplish our objective of training pastor interns. We…

  • Vet them through our application process. The application process helps us determine if an individual is a fit for this pastoral training ministry.
  • Mentor them to help them grow in key areas of biblical truth related to the pastoral ministry of the Gospel, such as depth of understanding of the Gospel, key areas of theology especially related to the doctrines of salvation and the church, character qualifications of a pastor/elder, and primary ministry functions of a pastor/elder.
  • Refine them in practical ministry by giving them opportunities to pastorally serve in the church with feedback and encouragement from our elders, staff, and church body.
  • Affirm them at the end of the internship so that they know that we see them as an approved workman of God who can go and minister the Gospel in whatever context God providentially leads them.

KEY FEATURES

At ITC, we desire all aspects of our training process to adhere to principles for discipleship and pastoral training described in the Scriptures. Below are some of the main biblical features of our training program:

1. A learning environment for the training recipients that is relational, modeled after the discipling/mentoring approach of Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul.

  • Our desire is not just to impart knowledge, but to do so in a way where the recipients experience our love and care (Eph 4:15; 2 Tim 1:4).
  • Although we expect our interns to be humble learners, they will never be seen as “ministry slaves” or treated with a lack of dignity. To treat them this way would be to deny the Gospel we are imparting them, a Gospel that sees no distinction between people and where all have access in one Spirit to the Father (Eph 4:18).
  • The learning process will take place through quality time spent together, where open dialogue is encouraged as we grow together our understanding of Gospel ministry in the church.
  • Gospel ministry will be modeled to them (1 Cor 11:1) as we engage in it together.

2. An accountability process through mutual transparency, prayer and biblical counsel.

  • We will encourage our training recipients to share honestly and openly with us so that we can help them grow in applying the Gospel to areas they need to mature.
  • However, we will take it upon ourselves to share honestly and openly with them about our lives, modeling humble transparency and our need for the Gospel grace.
  • Therefore, there will be a mutual commitment to one another to pray and apply Gospel-centered, biblical counsel.

3. Opportunities to engage in practical ministry in the body.

  • The training recipients will be given ministry opportunities in the church body to help them cultivate their giftedness in Gospel ministry.
  • They will have opportunities to grow in the following areas: preaching/teaching, discipling/mentoring, counseling, leading, and prayer.

4. Utilization of the church elders, staff, and the church body to encourage and help shape pastors in training.

  • In directing the pastoral interns to practical ministry in the church our hope is that they will grow in relationships with elders, ministry leaders, and church members, who will be instrumental in encouraging and shaping them.
  • The church body will be the key in affirming pastoral interns as qualified men for pastoral ministry.

THE PROCESS

Application
In order for someone to be a part of ITC's Pastoral Training Program, he must go through the application process by filling out an application and interviewing for the position. The church elders will then decide who qualifies for the program.

ITC PASTORAL INTERNSHIP APPLICATION FORM

Year One Internship
Year one internship focuses on building a foundation to a Gospel centered approach to life and ministry, with an emphasis on mentoring in the following areas: preaching and teaching, prayer ministry, church leadership (eldership), and practical ecclesiology (shepherding, church ordinances, church membership, etc.) . It includes the following components:

  • Reading key books on the topics mentioned above and writing reflection papers that will sharpen convictions
  • Weekly mentoring meetings to discuss the truths from the readings
  • Accountability (described above in “Features” )
  • Participation in church staff meetings and occasional elder meetings
  • Engaging in practical ministry in the church to apply truths learned
  • Participation in all local Spurgeon Fellowship and Gospel Coalition events
  • Ministry at the UGM several times a year (with Dick Welch)

Reading list:

  • A Gospel Primer for Christians, by Milton Vincent
  • Nine Marks of the Healthy Church, by Mark Dever
  • Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons, by Thabiti Anyabwile
  • Church Elders, by Jeramie Rinne
  • Expositional Preaching, by David Helm
  • Christ-Centered Preaching, by Bryan Chapel
  • The Gospel for Real Life, by Jerry Bridges
  • Counsel from the Cross, by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson
  • A Call to Spiritual Reformation, by D.A. Carson

Time commitment: 10-15 hrs per week.
Pay: Year One Interns are compensated $500 per month.

Year Two Internship
Year two internship has two main areas of focus. First, a much higher level of ministry involvement where pastoral interns have more pastoral oversight in church ministries. And continued mentoring in pastoral leadership.

Reading list:

  • Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, by John Piper
  • A Quest for Godliness, by J.I. Packer
  • Discipling, by Mark Dever
  • Leading with Love, by Alexander Strauch
  • The Reformed Pastor, by Richard Baxter
  • The Supremacy of God in Preaching, by John Piper

Time commitment: 10-15 hrs per week.
Pay: Year Two Interns are compensated $500 per month.

Two Year Residency
After completing the first two years of internship, a pastor in training may apply for a Residency at Indian Trail Church. A Residency is an opportunity for the pastoral trainee to pastor a major area of ministry at ITC while at the same time pursuing further equipping from a seminary or suitable ministry equipping institution. Pastoral Residency constitutes the highest level of pastoral training at ITC.

Time commitment: determined in the application process.
Pay: determined in the application process.

Affirmation
Upon completion of an internship (year one or two) or residency, the pastors in training will receive affirmation from the elders and church body and an encouragement to go and apply what has been learned to the context to which God is calling them.

A BIBLICAL CALL FOR PASTORAL TRAINING IN THE LOCAL CHURCH

Key Passage
2 Timothy 2:2 ESV – ...and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.

Observations
This is one of the clearest, most succinct passages in the Bible on the process God uses to pass down Gospel ministry to leaders in the church (i.e. training pastors). Therefore, along with other key passages informing it (i.e. 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:7-9; etc.), this is a great passage from which to to glean principles for training pastors in the church.

In the context of 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul is facing the imminency of the end of his life and ministry. Timothy is facing the threat of false teachers in the church. Therefore, with a heightened sense of urgency, Paul desires Timothy faithfully carry out his Gospel ministry and to equip others to do the same.

The primary action Paul calls Timothy to carry out is to “entrust” something to his recipients. The verb, “to entrust,” comes from the aorist middle imperative, παρατίθημι, which means to lay something before someone in a way that you are entrusting them to guard it and use it appropriately (i.e. like a deposit or investment in a financial sense; see 1 Timothy 6:20 and 2 Timothy 1:14).

What are “the things,” τατα, to be entrusted to the people in view? Paul says the entrusted things are “what you have heard from me...” In the context, it is clear that Paul is referring to the Gospel (2 Timothy 1:8, 10, 13). Timothy was to “guard the good deposit entrusted” (1:14) to him in his ministry by keeping the gospel pure with “sound words” as he taught it to others. Likewise, in 2 Timothy 2:2, Timothy is to entrust the Gospel and its purity to others.

This entrusting process was not to be given to anyone. Paul specifically mentions “faithful men,” πιστοῖς ἀνθρώποις, as the recipients. The emphasis on their faithfulness refers to the character of the men who will be faithful in carrying out their Gospel ministry to others. Implied in this is also the truth that these men will show the kind of character that has been transformed by the power of the Gospel and therefore will not be those who teach one thing and show the opposite of their teaching by poor conduct (i.e. Titus 2:8). Godly character in pastoral leadership is paramount (1 Timothy 3:1-7; 5:22; Titus 1:6-9).

Finally, Paul places an emphasis on the recipients of pastoral training being “able to teach others also.” This has two implications. The first is that Gospel ministry must be carried out by those who have received the proper gifting by the Holy Spirit as Timothy had (1:6). Second, this last qualification implies that the men being entrusted with Gospel ministry must have an adequate knowledge of the Gospel in order for them carry out their teaching ministry.

Principles for Pastoral Training
1. Pastoral training through this Gospel entrusting process is essential for the churches health and survival. The Gospel is what God uses to save sinners and strengthen the church (Romans 1:11-17; Colossians 1:28). But, the Gospel is always under threat of being either abandoned or tainted. Therefore, the local church must be committed to equipping its members in the Gospel. But, along with this, the local church should prioritize training men who be the next generation of corporate equippers, committed to spreading and protecting the Gospel in its purest form. This is essential because the Gospel alone has the power to save and sanctify.

2. The content of pastoral training must never be human wisdom, worldly principles on leadership, or even a excellent moral lifestyle to be emulated. Even an understanding of Biblical truth, isolated from the Gospel, is insufficient. The content of pastoral training must be the Gospel. Pastoral training must teach recipients the truth of the Gospel in its depths. Biblical truths (i.e. Biblical and Systematic Theology) must be taught in a way that they are tethered to the Gospel. Leadership principles must relate to the Gospel. A wrong emphasis in the content of pastoral training could lead to a polluted or false Gospel in the church.

3. Candidates for pastoral training must be “faithful,” meaning they must be growing in godly character that evidences the Gospel in their lives. They must be seen as meeting the character qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. Men who show themselves to be qualified will be faithful to the Gospel ministry God to which God is calling them.

4. Candidates for pastoral training must show that they have the proper gifting and commitment to that gifting. The Holy Spirit distributes the gifts in the church for his sovereign and good purposes. So it is important that those called to pastoral ministry exhibit the gifts that the Holy Spirit given for their calling. Explicitly, Paul mentions the gift of teaching (1 Timothy 3:2; 2 Timothy 2:2; Titus 1:9). Therefore, pastoral training recipients must be affirmed in this gifting.

5. Candidates for pastoral training, throughout the process, also must exhibit a growth in their knowledge of the Gospel and must show an adequate understanding of the Gospel as presented and explained in the Scriptures so that they might “rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) and “may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9).