Archives For Credentialing in the EFCA

EFCA Credentialing: Testimonies

Greg Strand – February 22, 2016 Leave a comment

The EFCA has a national credential for those in qualified ministries. The Board of Ministerial Standing (BOMS) is appointed by the EFCA Conference, the highest authority under Christ in our denomination, to carry out the mandates of the Conference regarding credentialing. They do this through the development of policies and procedures that best enable them to ensure candidates are qualified as ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, both doctrinally and morally.

Being congregational, the a candidate must receive a call from a local church before the credentialing process can begin. Once that call occurs, and once the candidate begins the licensing process, there is a partnership between the local church, the district and the national office.

The Conference mandate given to BOMS to oversee this process is done through the District Board of Ministerial Standing (DBOMS), who works closely with the candidate. Once the DBOMS affirms the candidate through the paper and a council, they send it to BOMS for final approval, on behalf of the Conference.

It is a wonderfully rigorous process, through which one learns and grows, and one is challenged and accountable, along with many other blessings. It is also a privilege to spend time thinking, pondering, praying and writing about your biblical beliefs in the form of theology and doctrine. Furthermore, it is a joy to be asked about this in the form of a council with others who are asking and probing those beliefs, for you to give a defense for the hope that is within you (1 Pet. 3:15). In fact, writing and articulating your theology is a doxological experience.

Every pastor and minister in a qualified ministry in the EFCA ought to be credentialed. I have written previously about its importance and benefits: EFCA Credentialing: Importance and Benefits To that end, I include a couple of testimonies from those serving in pastoral ministry in the North Central District, one of 17 EFCA districts across the country: Ryan Petersen (6 minutes) and Bryan Lair (2 minutes).

The numbers of pastors and ministers who are in qualifying ministries in a local EFC church is about 2500. This consists of our 1500 churches, along with many churches will multiple staff (not all staff in the local church serve in positions that are credentialable). Of this number of those in qualifying ministries in our local EFC churches, about 40% are credentialed in the EFCA. This affects our present and future doctrinal fidelity and moral integrity, since it provides safeguards and accountability, for both pastor/minister and church. The numbers of those in ministry credentialed in the EFCA ought to be much higher than that.

For those who are credentialed, this is an encouragement and affirmation for what you have done. Rejoice with these two for being two of the 40%. For those who are not credentialed, may this be an incentive to begin the process of credentialing. Begin by reading Ministerial Credentialing in the Evangelical Free Church of America. Then follow up by starting the process.

If you have questions, please contact the EFCA (credentialing@efca.org) or your district office.

EFCA Ordination: An Example

Greg Strand – November 24, 2015 Leave a comment

As a follow up to the earlier post on the importance and benefits of credentialing in the EFCA, I thought it might be insightful to hear from a few who actually participated in an ordination council of an EFCA pastor.

Prior to the ordination council, council members read the pastor’s 40 page ordination paper (you can see the credentialing process here). At the council, the pastor expounded his doctrinal beliefs as stated in the paper, and also responded to questions asked by council members.

After the ordination council, I asked a few of the members to include a few words about the importance of ordination in the EFCA, for the pastor, the local church where the pastor serves and the EFCA. This is stated from the perspective of members who are not pastors serving vocationally, with a couple of them also serving as elders in the local church.

Although the names and local church are not identified, this is representative of ordination councils across the EFCA. I thought it would be fruitful for you to hear the testimonies from a few who participated in a council and affirm it and the process.

Here is one response from a member and elder in the local church where the pastor serves.

 As a lay leader in a local EFC I came away from my exposure to the EFCA credentialing process more deeply committed to being a part of the EFCA and deeply grateful for the protections it offers us as a local congregation. The group of EFC pastors and laymen from neighboring communities provided a depth and perspective through the ordination council for our pastor that we never could have assembled ourselves. Through a process that was both theologically rigorous and humbly gracious, they invested themselves selflessly to help us to establish a new level of confidence in what we had already observed in the life and ministry of our pastor. The moderator masterfully guided this process without inserting himself or his considerable experience inappropriately while setting a tone for the entire evening that was both challenging and genuinely encouraging. I came away very impressed with the caliber of EFC pastors and deeply grateful for the EFCA’s commitment to high standards of biblical faithfulness. 

Here is a response from one who is a member of another local EFC church that is nearby. He wrote it to the pastor who went through the credentialing process.

I am a layperson who attends a different church than the one in which you minister.  I was asked by our district superintendent to participate in your EFCA ordination council.  I’d never done that before.  As a person that is a member of an EFC church and one who entrusts my family to sit under the teaching and shepherding ministry of an EFCA pastor, I was very pleased to see the process that you and other EFCA pastors willingly submit yourselves to in order to become ordained pastors in the EFCA.  It was obvious that you worked very hard to get to know God’s Word over years of ministry and study.  You answered theological questions from other ordained pastors and from lay people competently.  You explained well how this theological competence translated into personal ministry within the congregation you serve and among the people in the community with whom you live.  You showed us that your life reflects your theology.  It was a long day of interacting with those of us on the council.  But I could see at the end of it that you and your wife were pleased with the affirmation you received from those you respect in the Lord.  It was a profitable time for you, and for me.

As I shepherd my own family, I want to know that the pastors and elders of the church we attend are lovers of God and lovers of His Word, leaders that I can depend upon in the Lord.  2 Timothy 2:15 says “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”  Thank you for putting in the hard work to become a worker who has no need to be ashamed and one who rightly handles God’s Word.  Thank you for willingly submitting yourself to be tested and to be open to correction.  Thank you for being teachable and for being a teacher and minister of God.

Here, finally, is another response from one who is a member and serves as an elder of a neighboring EFC church.

I think Scripture is clear in Jude that we are to “contend for the faith”.  In Titus we see Paul instructing that we “must hold firm to the trustworthy word”.  In first Peter we are told to be “ready to give a defense”.  In 1 Timothy we are told that the church is to be the “pillar and buttress of the truth”.  Little of this will happen in a local church if the leadership, primarily the lead pastor(s), aren’t sound in their understanding of the truth. 

I was recently asked to take part in an EFCA ordination council for a local EFC church.  It was very encouraging to see how serious the EFCA takes the ordaining of their pastors.  The process requires pastors desiring to be ordained to be thoroughly knowledgeable in the Scriptures and to have had experience in applying this knowledge in daily practice.   It was a pleasure to be a part of such a process and it was also reassuring that by God’s grace and processes like this, we can have hope that God’s truth will continue in this often seemingly truth-less society 

I appreciate these testimonies giving personal insight into the importance of the credentialing process, for the pastor and the local church. This is a vital aspect of being committed to the spiritual health and well-being of local EFC churches, to remain faithful to Sound Doctrine, which, in turn, will do the same in the EFCA, both now and into the future.

This is our prayer, by God’s grace and for His glory.

 

EFCA Credentialing: Importance and Benefits

Greg Strand – November 23, 2015 2 Comments

In the EFCA, we have a national credential for those called to and engaged in pastoral (vocational) ministry. Being congregational (local church autonomy), credentialing begins in the context of a local church, which means that the process of credentialing cannot be done apart from a call to a qualifying EFC local church ministry. In the EFCA, once a person is in a qualifying EFC ministry, then they reflect their interdependence by encouraging those in pastoral (vocational) ministry to be credentialed in the EFCA.

In one of the Board of Ministerial Standing’s documents, they expound the importance and benefits of being credentialed in the EFCA. The Board of Ministerial Standing is approved by and accountable to the Conference of the EFCA, the congregational authority in the EFCA under Christ. Their responsibility is to implement the credentialing process on behalf of the Conference and through this give oversight to the doctrinal fidelity and moral purity of credentialed pastors.

Here, then, are a few statements explaining the importance and benefits of being credentialed in the EFCA, both to the candidate and the local church.

What are the benefits for the candidate of the credentialing process in the EFCA?  

The candidate will be affirmed beyond the local church regarding a calling to and gifting for ministry. Through this process, the candidate will have structure to guide the study and processing of biblical/theological truths and the pastoral applications of those truths in the lives of God’s people. It will also provide accountability, both doctrinally and morally.

What are the benefits to the local church?  

The local church leaders and membership will be assured that their pastoral staff is aligned with the EFCA, and is committed to serve within the EFCA. As members in a local church are under authority (of Christ and the leaders and members), so is the pastoral staff under the same authority, and also the EFCA. The pastoral staff is saying to the local church that we are all in the EFCA.

Why should the local church encourage/require their vocational ministry staff to be credentialed in the EFCA?

Because this is a national credential, it provides consistency and uniformity of standards and expectations for all those being credentialed. When a local church has a pastoral staff person who is credentialed in the EFCA, they can be reassured of the calling, character, and biblical/theological capacity of this person. This is true of their pastoral staff that has been credentialed while in ministry with them, and it is also true of those they may call at some point in the future. This is an important way the national EFCA serves local churches. Moreover, this is a very important step to ensure doctrinal fidelity and moral purity in lives of those who serve as pastoral staff. If there is doctrinal compromise or moral failure with a non-credentialed pastoral staff person, the local church often has to address it alone. If a person is credentialed, it provides a national resource to the local church to address these matters intentionally, purposefully and redemptively. This is also an important way in which the autonomous local church communicates their interdependency with other local EFC churches together known as the EFCA. This would be the difference between being a pastor of an EFC church and being an EFC pastor. Finally, this is one small step towards the fulfillment of Jesus’ high priestly prayer for believers to be one. 

How would this help the one who enters into the credentialing process as a means of ministerial and theological growth?

It provides structure for one’s study of biblical/theological truth with the EFCA Statement of Faith as the foundation. An avenue of further growth would be to teach this material to the local church as you are studying it, either in a sermon series, an adult Sunday school or in a small group. This has the dual benefit for both the person in the credentialing process and those in the local church to learn more about the EFCA and its gospel-centered, Christ-focused, God-glorifying biblical/theological commitments as expressed in the Statement of Faith. As is often the case, the teacher has the profound benefit of learning the most.

How about you?

  1. If you are in a qualifying ministry in the EFCA, are you credentialed? Why are you? What is the importance? What are the benefits to you and the church? If not, why not.
  2. For those who are leaders alongside pastors, have you encouraged (required) your pastor to pursue credentialing in the EFCA? If so, why did you? If not, why not?
  3. I encourage all in qualifying ministry in the EFCA to be credentialed. I encourage those members and leaders of local EFC churches to require their pastors and pastoral leaders (vocationally) to be credentialed in the EFCA. If you have any questions as you pursue this, please let me know.

EFCA Ordination: An Example

Greg Strand – March 27, 2015 Leave a comment

The Board of Ministerial Standing recently approved John Kuvakas for ordination. It was encouraging for me to be the one to do so on behalf of BOMS. 

John was also greatly encouraged. It was a delight for me to read of his journey in his recent blog post. He describes the process very well. He also strongly affirms the process and its importance. For these reasons, I include reference to it here so that you can hear it from John himself. What follows are some of the highlights about which he wrote.

John was called to ministry in 2002, and did not have much experience and with no formal training, either pastoral or theological. He and the elders determined that in light of not attending seminary he would learn through attendance at carefully chosen Conferences (many of those were our Theology Conferences), purchasing and reading of many books and going through GATEWAY in the District. At the conclusion of GATEWAY, he had written a doctrinal statement which prepared him to write the licensing paper and appear before a District credentialing council. 

Once he received the license (at this time it was a three-year temporary license, which is now a five-year renewable), he continued to study, write and refine his theology and doctrine. At the end of this time John wrote an ordination paper and articulated his doctrinal beliefs before a District credentialing council. (I appreciate his honest description of this.) This led to a conditional approval in which he was required to study further five doctrinal issues. At the conclusion of this further study, his material was sent to the national Board of Ministerial Standing, who approved John for ordination in the EFCA.

John writes, “It is not a degree and does not allow me the honor of placing any letters before or after my name. However, it does say that I’ve been thoroughly examined in my theology and endorsed as a minister of the gospel and shepherd of the flock by a rigorous council of peers and highly educated men. . . . I give all praise and honor to God! In Him, all things are truly possible!”

I rejoice with him (and many others licensed and ordained in the EFCA)!