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The TES Experience




The TES Experience unfolds in a graduated scale of increasing

involvement, responsibility, and evaluation allowing church leaders to care

for, and equip the emerging shepherd in each season of his training.

Stage one:

This is an introduction to body life, shepherding, and growth in

personal holiness. The focus is to help the student understand the

ministry and philosophy of the church and discern where he might

best fit in serving the church. He and his family assimilate into body

life. They will become members. By the end of year one both the

husband and the wife should have at least one organic personal

discipleship relationship. This means that every student and their wife

are accounted for by an elder, church leader, or qualified church

member. This type of first year discipleship does not merely mean

“checkups and check-ins”. Most notably, the seminary couple should

begin having weekly, or bi weekly, investment into their marriage,

parenting, conflict, communication, and personal holiness. Their

preparation for future ministry begins in year one of the CBC

Experience. They will not be able to be an example to the flock if they

don’t learn how to live exemplary lives. The campus church elders

and leaders are responsible to engage the seminary couple with

these goals in mind.

Stage Two:

This builds on the previous year and advances the student’s on-the-

job training. By this time the particular church leader(s) who is

regularly investing in the student’s life should be getting a strong

sense of where 1. Growth is most needed and 2. Where the student

and his wife can be most useful in body life. They should be on the

cusp—outside of major character issues that emerge in year one

discipleship—of engaging more deeply into ministry contexts that

both stretch them and activate their gifting. The most natural place for

this is alongside the elder or church leader’s personal investing in

their life. This is where the life on life comes into play. Much like

Jesus with his disciples, the student, along with his wife when she is

able, should be alongside these disciplers in order to observe them in

action—and even start to share in ministry with them

Stage Three:

The student by now should be ready to start receiving more

leadership responsibility. If it is not already happening, he should be

sitting on and engaging in leadership dynamics in body life. It may be

alongside other proven men, but he should be encouraged to start

using his gifts. He should now be in regular elder meetings, He

should be regularly teaching and leading in bible studies or home

groups. This is the season where he gets stretched and prepared for

the busyness of real soul care. Leaders in his life should be sharing

more ministry with him and then watching, evaluating, challenging

and encouraging him to see his growing proficiency as a shepherd.

His team of trusted mentors should start looking for more refined

ways to shape him. Some of the earlier struggles in his personal life,

marriage, parenting, ecclesiology, etc., should be getting traction.

Therefore the disciples and leaders in his life can starting sharpening

his shepherding, teaching, and leadership skills. As his burdens

increase in body life, he will need much help navigating his time, his

family, and his ministry. Depending on his wife’s stage of life, these

mentors, and or other godly women will be helping her thrive in

ministry through the variant seasons of life. By this stage he should

be able to do more than just teach an expository sermon. He should

be encouraged and challenged to develop other leaders around him

and start leading in his ministry contexts. He should be stretched and

put in contexts that require him to walk by faith and face his fears. A

shepherd leader is being forged in the fires of ministry. He should be

emerging among the flock as a trusted churchmen at the least, and a

trusted shepherd at the most.

Stage Four:

The classroom studies are lessened in year four, allowing the

majority of the student’s training to take place in-house, i.e. church

ministry! This involves much higher levels of spiritual influence where

the student continues to experience both the pain and the pleasure of

pastoral ministry. This is the time the student should be ascending as

a shepherd. While graduation is not the same as ordination, this last

year should be a last final push to prepare the trained shepherd to be

ready for greater ministry responsibility. During this year he should

have weekly or bi-weekly meeting with the campus pastor. Their time

together should be forging deep into his gifts, usefulness, calling,

readiness, and future ways God may use him for kingdom work. He

will also have a senior meeting with key elders that have been in his

life during his TES Experience. He and his will be getting closer to the

full rigors of pastor burden.



Encouragement to Senior Pastors:

• Build into the fabric of your ministry the habit of taking a seminary

student with you on ministry activities (outside teaching opportunities,

missions trips, hospital and home visits, counseling cases when

appropriate, even personal errands in order to invest time mentoring a


• Encourage your staff to do the same but not as a substitute for your

involvement. Let your example and joy in this 2 Timothy 2:2 ministry set

the pace for your entire church staff and elder team.

• Attend all the chapel services and hang out with students as much as

possible in and around the seminary classroom. Be present and


• Prayerfully prepare each Campus Chapel as a vitally important time with

your students. Guard these scheduled times on your calendar. We have

Campus Chapels for just this purpose. Make sure to prioritize them.

• Consider sending a fourth-year resident student out on his own into a

ministry context you or another staff member would normally handle and

then interact with him on the experience.

• Consider an occasional hosting of students in your home. One of our

pastors has a once a month pizza night with students in his home after a

Sunday night service.

• It is very important to involve the entire shepherding team in the

mentoring assessment and accountability on your church campus. Make

this a part of each elder’s agenda when you meet.

• Share the mentoring load with your men, especially early in the process.

Get other elders involved when getting to know and evaluate and place

students new to your campus into the ministries of your church.

• Reports in the elders meeting will provide accountability and allow all the

men to know how to pray for each of your students. After all, these are

the men that your elders will be asked to ordain, lay hands on, and send

out of your church into gospel ministry. What could be more important

than that! Lead your elders into the joy of training and preparing others

for pastoral ministry!

Encouragements to elders:

• The TES Experience cannot be carried out by just a few men

• The TES Experience can only be accomplished if all the elders in the

plurality share the load

• There is no way a student will receive this experience by accident or


• It will take much prayer, planning, time allocation, strategic meetings,

and intense labor to see these men receive this experience

• Elders should be prepared for the rhythm of their life and ministry to

change when budding theological, and future shepherd ascend upon

their church campus

• Build into the fabric of your ministry the habit of taking a seminary

student with you on ministry activities (outside teaching opportunities,

missions trips, hospital and home visits, counseling cases when

appropriate, even personal errands in order to invest time mentoring

a student)

• Talk honestly about how many students you can provide the TES

Experience for at your campus

• Engage students to make sure you know how they are doing in the


• Challenge them on their motivations for ministry

• Help them cultivate a shepherds heart

• Ensure they prioritize body life. Never neglect body life for academics

• Talk through their schedules with them

• Be in their homes, equipping in parenting, marriage, time

management, personal purity and faithfulness at work

• Challenge students to immerse themselves in the flock

• Challenge students to be present as a shepherd in every context they

are able

• Challenge students to learn pastoral wisdom

• Sit under their teaching and help them grow in clarity as preachers

and teachers of God’s Word

Encouragement to Congregations:

All training of pastors in the New Testament takes place in the body life of a

local church. A students training cannot happen without the church coming

alongside the future shepherd. Said another way, no shepherd can be

trained to care for sheep if they don’t have time with them. Below is a list of

ways you can supplement the TES Experience in your local context.

• Pray for the men

• Encourage them when they are clear in their teaching

• Ask good questions when they are not clear

• Come alongside them when they are discouraged

• Find out what needs their families may have

• Find ways to financially support them during their training

• Go to them, and then also share any concerns with their elders if you

see any drift morally or doctrinally

• Come to listen when they are teaching

• Find ways to support their wife during busy semesters

• Follow up on their prayer requests to see how they are doing

• Give them books and resources that they may need

• Find ways to free up their time

• Check on their wives regularly to see how you can support them

• Ask your elders if there are any ways you can serve students as they are training

• Find ways to encourage their kids

• Attend TES Sunday’s, graduations, and special TES events

• Support and serve in annual TES events (Gold tournaments etc.)

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