Cohort Leader Guide



Certificate in Christian Ministry


2013 - Current


Welcome from BTS

Dear Ministry Leader:

Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ. Thank you for your interest in leading a student cohort in the Certificate in Christian Ministry program at Birmingham Theological Seminary. This Guide provides essential information for you to evaluate whether the cohort program is right for you. If you decide to apply to be a cohort leader and your application is approved, this Guide will provide you with the information you need to serve as a cohort leader. The terms and conditions contained in this Guide are binding on any person accepted by BTS as a cohort leader.

If you think God might be directing you towards a ministry of shepherding students through the CCM program, you should carefully read everything we have for you here. Start with the CCM Student Handbook and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Then familiarize yourself with the video content, readings and structure of the materials offered on the CCM website. With this background, read this Guide in its entirety. After reviewing all of this information, please prayerfully consider whether this is where the Lord would have you invest your time and effort. If you are still interested in pursuing the cohort leader option, complete and submit a cohort leader application (use the link below). If you are approved as a cohort leader, you will receive additional instructions on how to register your cohort students and begin leading them through the CCM program.

We pray that God will use your leadership and the materials presented in the Certificate in Christian Ministry Program to equip many to lead God’s Church.

May the Lord use you greatly to advance the Kingdom!

In the Service of the King of Kings,

The Staff of Birmingham Theological Seminary

About This Guide

This Guide contains information for ministry leaders desiring to lead a group (or cohort) of students through the Birmingham Theological Seminary Certificate in Christian Ministry (CCM) program. It does not attempt to address information which is already covered in the CCM Handbook. Any conflicts in language between this Guide and the CCM Handbook will be resolved in favor of the language in the CCM Handbook.

What is a cohort?

A cohort is a group of people who seek to gather together as a group for a given purpose. In academic circles, a cohort is a group of students who are enrolled in a course of study and progress through their studies together.

Since launching the online CCM in 2012, BTS has been contacted by a number of pastors and other ministry leaders desiring to take a group of students through the CCM. In some cases, the prospective students have little or no internet access and, because the CCM is an online program, have not been able to be CCM students. In response to those inquiries, BTS developed the Cohort Leader program.

CCM cohort students must meet the same requirements as ordinary CCM students, which includes acceptance into the program, completion of all assignments and passage of required exams. The key difference between a CCM cohort student and an ordinary CCM student is that the cohort leader facilitates the delivery of content and exams to the cohort student, and is responsible for entering student grades into the CCM system.

A prospective cohort leader must recruit and develop his own cohort of students. BTS does not supply the names of students or prospective students to cohort leaders. A cohort must consist of at least two students. There is presently no maximum size cohort, though BTS may later determine there is a need to impose such a limit.

BTS desires to make it possible for groups to band together to help encourage each other through the CCM program. These groups can take many forms. There are no time limits, so groups are free to move as quickly or as slowly through the CCM program as they wish. The cohort is free to meet daily, weekly or even monthly. It is up to the cohort leader to design a plan for how their individual cohort will proceed.

Who can be a Cohort leader?

Any individual seeking to help a group of students progress through the CCM program may apply to be a CCM cohort leader. In general, cohort leaders are pastors or ministry leaders who already have biblical training and ministry experience. The applicant must provide two references of their Christian character and must be affiliated with an established Christian organization or Church. Cohort leaders must have reliable internet access.

The cohort leader may not be a student in the CCM program.

BTS does not impose any particular residency restrictions on the cohort leader. However, as explained in the CCM Student Handbook, only students who reside outside of the United States and its territories and possessions may take the CCM program for academic credit.

What is the Cohort Leader responsible for?

The cohort leader is responsible for recruiting students for his cohort and completing CCM applications for each student. Once the cohort students have been accepted into the CCM program, the cohort leader is responsible for supervising the delivery of CCM content, testing the students, grading exams, and entering the grades into the CCM system. The cohort leader must ensure that BTS has current contact information for himself and for all cohort students.

BTS will provide the cohort leader with electronic copies of the study guides, exams and exam answers via the CCM website or email, but asks that the cohort leader obtain the CCM lectures, readings and other CCM content directly from Third Millennium Ministries or from some other source. Because there are a limited number of exam questions, cohort leaders must guard the confidentiality of the exams and may not allow students to retain copies of any exams. BTS will provide direction to the cohort leader on how to record and report exam grades and student progress. The cohort leader may not share the exam answers with the students before the student takes the exam or during the examination.

The cohort leader must review the CCM Student Handbook, provide a copy of the CCM Student Handbook to cohort students, and make those students aware that they are subject to the terms of the CCM Handbook. The cohort leader is subject to the terms of that handbook as well, specifically including the policies on Christian lifestyle, dispute resolution, code of ethics, statement of faith and privacy of student records.

Upon a student’s completion of the CCM requirements, BTS will deliver a Certificate in Christian Ministry to the cohort leader. The cohort leader must deliver it to the student.

What is the Cohort Leader’s Relationship to BTS?

The cohort leader’s relationship with BTS is that of an unpaid volunteer. The cohort leader is not a BTS faculty member, employee or contractor and has no authority to make decisions for BTS or bind BTS in any way. The cohort leader’s role is simply to deliver CCM content (including exams) to the cohort students, grade those exams, and provide those grades to BTS in the manner specified by BTS. While the cohort leader has agreed to abide by the CCM Student Handbook and the terms of this Guide, BTS has no authority over the actions or statements of the cohort leader.

BTS does not charge students any fees or tuition for participation in the CCM. The cohort leader likewise may not charge any fees to cohort students for their participation in the CCM. BTS does not pay cohort leaders any compensation.

BTS is a Christian institution and cohort leaders are professing Christians. BTS and the cohort leader believe the Bible commands them to make every effort to live at peace and to resolve disputes with each other in private or within the Christian church (see Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 6:1-8). Therefore, any claim or dispute arising from or related to the matters described in this Guide or the CCM program shall be settled by mediation and, if necessary, legally binding arbitration in accordance with the Rules of Procedure for Christian Conciliation of the Institute for Christian Conciliation, a division of Peacemaker Ministries.


If the cohort leader ceases to participate in the cohort program for any reason (including a decision by BTS to end the cohort leader’s participation), then BTS will require that cohort students transition to the “ordinary” online CCM program in order to continue. In that event, BTS has no obligation to locate a replacement cohort leader or continue the cohort. The cohort leader must ensure that the cohort students are aware of this policy.

While BTS has no intention of suspending or terminating the CCM program, we recognize the uncertainties inherent in offering an online program globally. For that reason, BTS has reserved the right to suspend, modify or terminate the CCM program or this cohort program at any time without any further obligation to cohort leader or students in the CCM cohort. We would, in that event, work with the cohort students to develop a transition plan or alternative.

The application process

Because the CCM Cohort Leader has a role of influencing and enabling students, the application process is more demanding for Cohort Leaders than for Students. A major requirement is that you must provide the email addresses for two people who know you well and can testify to your suitability as a godly facilitator of young men and women as they equip themselves for deeper personal ministry. These two people, called references, will be emailed their own reference forms. Also before actually beginning the application process, you should gather any internet addresses for social media you use, as well as websites for churches or ministries with which you are affiliated.

You start the application process by using the green link below. You will be taken first to a short form where you provide your name, country and email address. After submitting that form, you will receive an email with further instructions. This step serves to validate your email address, because you cannot be a cohort leader without a reliable and functional email address.

If you do not receive the email with your application instructions with a few hours, please contact BTS by email (ccm at bts dot education) or phone (+1 205-776-5650). Don't let weeks or months pass before you suspect that your information has not be received.

When you follow the instructions in the validation email, you will be taken to the online cohort leader application form. There you must provide your contact details, your Christian testimony and the email addresses of your two references. Once you have submitted that application, BTS will review your application and get back to you as soon as your references submit their forms. Please make sure that the people who will be your references know to expect an email from BTS, and follow up with them regularly to make sure they respond in a timely manner. This part of the application is often where delays occur, waiting for references to submit their forms.

You will be notified as soon as your application has been approved, or if any other communication is required to move it forward. Once accepted, you will receive more personal interaction with BTS to train you for your work.

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