Where Do I Start? (FAQs)

A video overview by Dave Linde:

The following questions will help you see at a glimpse what EFCA credentialing is all about.  For the complete details, download “Ministerial Credentialing in the EFCA,” the EFCA credentialing policy on the national EFCA website.

What is the meaning of credentialing in the EFCA?

Credentialing is rooted in the New Testament concept of commendation.  The NT writers often commended individuals to the churches as leaders worthy of trust.  For examples of this, see Rom. 16:1; 2 Cor. 8:18-24; Phil. 2:19-22; 3 John 12.  By commending these individuals in this way, the writers were vouching for their integrity of life and teaching.

An EFCA ministerial credential is a cultural, denominational way of expressing this commendation.  It says that this Christian leader is faithful: he or she can be trusted to teach the sound doctrine that was entrusted to the apostles by Christ, and to live out that doctrine in the community of the church (2 Tim. 2:2).

Why should I consider becoming credentialed?

  1. To pursue a structured pathway of personal development that can deepen your own spiritual vitality and enhance your ministry effectiveness
  2. To encourage your local church with this additional commendation from the wider family of EFCA churches
  3. To express your commitment to be accountable to the body of Christ through the EFCA
  4. To strengthen your potential pursuit of a different ministry within the EFCA at some future time

What does credentialing involve?

The diagram below will show you the overall process at a glance.

Credentialing Overview diagram rev 2014-01

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Credentialing Overview 2914-01

The EFCA offers two ministerial credentials. The ministry license (Vocational or Non-Vocational, depending on the nature of one’s ministry) is renewable on a five-year basis as long as one is serving in accordance with EFCA standards. After two years, the holder of a license is eligible to apply for certification if he or she chooses to do so.

Certification represents a more rigorous standard of commendation. There are two certificates.  The Certificate of Ordination is designed mainly (though not exclusively) for senior or solo pastors.  It is granted to males only.  The Certificate of Christian Ministry is designed for a wide variety of ministry roles.

What specific work is required?

Summary of License Requirements:

  • Paperwork (application forms, recommendation letter, etc.)
  • Completion of written questionnaires (PSCQ) from you, your spouse if you are married or a close friend if you are single, and your church’s elders (if you prefer, you and your spouse can choose a personal interview instead) that explore your spiritual and character qualifications for this ministry credential.
  • Reading five books about EFCA history, beliefs, and practices
  • Writing a biographical-doctrinal paper (15-20 pages)
  • Successfully completing an interview

Summary of Certificate Requirements (prerequisite: EFCA license):

  • Paperwork (application forms, recommendation letter, etc.)
  • Expanding your licensing paper based on further study, reflection, and interaction during the licensing period
  • Successfully passing a formal examination council

Who is eligible?

You must be a member of an EFCA church and engaged in a qualifying vocational or bi-vocational ministry.  (An exception to this is the non-vocational ministry license.)

What is a qualifying ministry?

Generally a ministry within the EFCA or approved by the national Board of Ministerial Standing.  Non-EFCA ministries are considered on a case-by-case basis.

On what basis does the EFCA evaluate an individual’s fitness for credentialing?

  • Call to ministry
  • Personal character and integrity
  • Ministerial capability
  • Competence in Biblical-theological understanding

The first three of these are attested to primarily by the local church through a formal  recommendation questionnaire submitted by the elders.  The last item (and, to some extent, the other three) is evaluated at the district level through the written papers and the oral examinations.

Is there an educational requirement?

The basic requirement for licensing is preparation that demonstrates appropriate theological understanding and alignment with the EFCA, as demonstrated in your paper and in your oral interview.   The Certificate of Christian Ministry requires the demonstration of theological competency.  The Certificate of Ordination requires the demonstration of theological proficiency.  Preparation for these requirements could take the form of formal or non-formal education and training.

Will obtaining a credential help me obtain tax benefits?

Please understand that credentialing is not primarily a means to obtain ministerial tax status with the IRS or recognition by the State of Minnesota to perform marriages.  While an EFCA credential may help to qualify you for these things, we ask you instead to view credentialing as an opportunity for public affirmation of your integrity and competence in ministry, and an opportunity for personal growth and development to that end.  (Note: regarding the relationship between an EFCA ministerial credential and IRS tax treatment, you need to consult expert advice, such as the helpful manual Zondervan Minister’s Tax and Financial Guide by Dan Busby, J. Michael Martin, and John VanDrunen.

Can women be credentialed in the EFCA?

Yes.  They are eligible for licensing and for the Certificate of Christian Ministry.  They are not eligible for ordination.

What if I’m not yet in a qualifying ministry?  Is there something I can do?

If you anticipate entering a qualifying ministry soon, you can begin working on the requirements for licensing.  You can also participate in a licensing discussion group (see below).

Can I transfer my credential to the EFCA?

If you are licensed (but not ordained) with another denomination or church, you must begin with the EFCA licensing process.  If you are ordained with another denomination or church and that ordination process involved a substantive paper and a formal examination council, you are likely eligible to transfer your ordination to the EFCA. Contact our office ()  for advice on your eligibility. That process is largely the same as regular EFCA ordination, though you do not have to complete the licensing stage and you may not have to write a whole new paper.

What resources are available to help me?

We have some self-study resources that can help you in a personal regimen of preparation and development. We also offer licensing discussion groups, which we highly recommend.  These are small learning communities that meet in various locations around the district.  Led by EFCA-ordained pastors, these groups discuss the theological themes of the Statement of Faith, applying them to life and ministry, thus helping to prepare individuals for licensing and certification.  Practical help with writing the papers is also given.   See the list of discussion groups for one near you, and watch some personal testimonies about these groups.

What are my first steps?

  • Download the forms and resources you need from EFCA Website and from the Resources page of this section.
  • Work at your own pace on the application forms, book reading, and writing your paper.  These can be done in any order.  Note: request the PSCQ questionnaires soon enough to allow you and the elders of your church to complete them adequately and return them to our office.
  • Join a licensing discussion group to help you on your way. See the Discussion Groups page for a group in your area.
  • Send us an email to let us know of your intent () so we can track with you and answer questions you may have.

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