Recently the EFCA national Board of Ministerial Standing approved a number of revisions to the ministerial credentialing policy. Among the changes are the following. Take note, because they might have significant implications for you.
First, there is no longer a full-time (30 hours per week) requirement. Persons engaged in a qualifying ministry that is part-time or bi-vocational are now eligible. The rationale for this change is a desire to provide credentials for a growing number of pastors, such as church planters, whose ministries require a part-time or bi-vocational arrangement.
Second, certification (Christian Ministry or Ordination) is now optional. You can pursue licensing without having to continue on to ordination. The ministry license is renewable on a five-year basis. The Certificate of Christian Ministry or the Certificate of Ordination may be pursued, if you desire, after the second full year of licensing. The rationale for this change is the desire to encourage more pastors to become credentialed. The benefits of alignment, accountability, and brushing up on theological understanding can all be obtained without the accompanying hurdle of full-blown ordination that some pastors find intimidating. Yet the option of ordination (and the Certificate of Christian Ministry), with all its own benefits, remains open.
Third, certain non-vocational ministries are now eligible for a special license. A non-vocational ministry license is now available to persons who require a license, or who would significantly benefit from a license, for certain volunteer ministries. These would include ministries such as jail chaplaincy, marketplace chaplaincy, etc. The rationale behind this is to assist individuals in carrying out voluntary frontline ministry by offering a versatile, non-vocational credential. Not every volunteer ministry would necessarily qualify. Applicants will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
A fourth major change in credentialing is at the district level. We are forming four regional examination panels: north, south, west-central, and metro. They will eventually handle licensing interviews and certification/ordination councils in their respective geographic areas. Each panel will meet twice a year (maybe three times for the metro). Applicants will be scheduled on those dates. In the meantime, as this new structure unfolds, I will continue to be the primary contact person in the district for licensing and certification. Find further information about district credentialing requirements and process on our district website.
And why pursue a ministerial credential in the first place? For EFCA alignment and integrity, for accountability, for collegial commendation, for the encouragement of your church, and maybe most importantly, for personal nourishment and development, overflowing into theologically nourished ministry.
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