This programme, formerly known as the "Apprentice"* programme, has been restructured in 2020 to maintain best practice in line with evolving employment and volunteer legislation.
Accelerate is a year out programme run by Oxford Community Church providing opportunity for leadership development and training, combining
- volunteering in one or more OCC ministries
- training for those roles, including 'classroom' and on-the-job mentoring
- other training opportunities, beyond the immediate needs of the volunteer role
Overall this provides a great opportunity for discipleship, coaching, experience and opportunity tailored to the call of God on the person.
Who is it for?
Accelerate is not just a year team/discipleship year/internship. These tend to be open to all those who apply, operate with a group of trainees, have a fairly standard programme of teaching, and a heavy emphasis on serving in various church ministries.
Rather, Accelerate is by mutual discernment, for those with a call of God to leadership, in the church or otherwise, and already showing leadership gifting. Ideally, we run Accelerate for only 1 or 2 people each year.
If you've seen this document, the discernment process may already have started, with one of our leaders already talking to you about Accelerate. We're looking to come to agreement together and to have a sense that God is speaking - "it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us" (Acts 15.28).
The arrangement assumes a degree of mutual relational commitment, in which:
- OCC is committing to invest time, skills and wisdom into the trainee
- the trainee is committing to be a teachable learner
- normally we would mutually expect the programme to be seen through to completion
Furthermore, we often find we have vision for each participant, beyond what that person can yet see for themselves. So we’re not looking just at a year in isolation, and our investment in the relationship in the year is made with the hope of seeing that longer term future realised, and forming a deeper relationship that may naturally continue beyond the year.
What might it include?
Volunteer placements and training
Through the application process we agree with you up to 3 volunteer placements, in line with your personal development interests, where you will get to work alongside staff and existing volunteers, learning both on-the-job and through necessary volunteer induction and training. As you apply yourselves to these volunteer roles, in either an existing church project or ministry, or starting a new project or ministry, you will make a lasting difference!
Depending on your placements, your training will include leadership development and coaching, e.g.
- Training in leadership skills, through teaching, opportunity to serve, feedback and challenge - this includes leadership of organisations, of people, of teams and of spiritual communities
- Joining a leadership team: You will usually be invited to join the leadership team of the ministries you are volunteering within, in order to experience how a leadership team function.
There is no charge for this training, as it is necessary for the volunteer roles you will play in OCC or its partner organisations.
Other training elements
As well as the core training necessary for your volunteering roles, we will work with you to design further aspects of training tailored to your learning priorities. These could include:
- Extended time accompanying senior church leaders, including the option to accompany those working overseas
- Coaching from specialist leaders, e.g. charity leaders, innovators, business leaders, community and political leaders, social entrepreneurs (OCC has extensive connections, including through past students, and we seek to leverage these connections and open doors for your benefit!)
- Theological training, through our 'Upper Room' programme, or an equivalent
- External courses and conferences
- Ministry trips overseas
These training elements will be charged at cost. See below for more on this.
As well as the placements and other training elements, two key people will help you focus on your personal development and growth throughout the year:
- Accelerate director of studies: responsible for assisting you in getting the most out of the year, focusing on your personal development, and ensuring effective coordination of the programme, through meeting most weeks
- A personal pastor: offering care and challenge, helping to you process more personal areas of growth. Your personal pastor may be the same as your current personal pastor, or we may agree a change for you to get the best out of Accelerate.
One option that participants find really beneficial is to lodge with a family involved with Church leadership in OCC. This provides the opportunity for “life-on-life learning”, and a chance to see how leadership works itself out in the context of normal life.
This would normally be a paid arrangement, at slightly less than market rates, and would normally include all bills and meals as agreed. The idea is to share life and join the family – eating meals together, sharing some household responsibilities.
We can make introductions as requested, but otherwise OCC have no involvement in the contract between you and the landlord.
We are committed to offering training, care and challenge in a way that will help you to grow as a leader over the year. We ask that you commit to being:
- Open and teachable
- Reliable and punctual
- Up-front about any difficulties or challenges associated with the year
- Enthusiastic and willing to “have a go”
- Broadly supportive of our vision and values, and willing to live within the habits of the OCC community in areas where you may disagree (this is best explored by participating in our church membership course)
For Accelerate 2021/22 onwards we have been advised that we should more clearly separate the free training you receive as a volunteer, from chargeable training elements that we put together in discussion with you.
OCC will pay for costs of:
- Staff time supporting and mentoring you in your volunteer roles
- Training required for those roles
- Any external training, conferences or specialist coaching related to those roles
You will be asked to pay for the other training elements (see above):
- One developing world trip, for which we recommend you budget £1,200
- Theological training, £400
- External coaching and travel, as agreed
- Other conferences and training, as agreed
Typically, these costs come to around £2,500.
Additionally, you should budget for:
- Board and lodging (approx. £500 / month for 12 months)
- Spending money
- Tithe and other charitable giving
It will be important to come up with a personal budget for the year (and we are happy to assist you in doing so).
As part of the Accelerate year, you will probably need to find part-time work.
However, we see the work as more than simply a necessity in order to pay the bills – particularly if you are coming out of a student lifestyle – having a part-time job during the year offers a fantastic opportunity to be discipled in how you approach work and the workplace, work-life balance, and juggling work and ministry.
We may be able to signpost you to opportunities that we are aware of in schools and other charitable organisations.
Whatever you do, in order to get the best out of Accelerate as a whole, our strong recommendation is that:
- You find a job with regular hours (ideally 9-5 on weekdays) which does not commit you to time “out of hours” (e.g. preparation, marking)
- You work no more than three days per week, with no expectation of overtime.
If you have further questions, please talk with the person who invited you to consider the programme.
*Although problematic in employment law, we liked the term "apprentice" as it speaks of the relationship and working together between apprenticer and apprentice, which is a modern version of the Bible's master and disciple language.