Imagine that you have just arrived in Grand Rapids, Mich., from Edmonton, Alberta, as a first-year student at Calvin Theological Seminary (CTS).
It’s a hot, humid day in late August. Your 1996 Dodge minivan carried your family of five while pulling a trailer loaded down with all of your earthly possessions, except what you stored in your parents’ basement. Apart from the CTS student ambassador who welcomed you to town, you don’t know a soul in West Michigan.
In your first class, “Theological Education as Formation for Ministry,” you are reminded that you’re required to make a commitment to attend a local church and to find a vocational mentor, who may be the pastor of that church. You imagine that having a mentor will be a great help, but with so many churches and pastors in town you wonder where to begin the search.
CTS tries to make the job easier by providing students with guidance from staff and faculty advisers, and by posting an online directory of Christian Reformed churches in West Michigan. The directory is organized by classis, and gives information about staff, service times, size, and location. Students are encouraged to visit churches until they find the church and mentor that is right for them.
Vocational mentors play a huge role in seminary students’ lives by listening, encouraging, counseling, providing ministry opportunities, and giving valuable feedback to help prepare them for a life of ministry.
Rev. Lynn Likkel of Sherman Street Christian Reformed Church has been meeting regularly with two CTS students. She says one of the benefits of serving as a mentor is the opportunity to recount God’s faithfulness as you reflect on your own journey in ministry.
CTS is very grateful for all the pastors and ministry leaders who serve as vocational mentors to our students.