Sarah has served in the church for years; but her education and professional experience is primarily in the business world. In the course-transcript system for credentialing, Sarah’s experience is seen as useful, but not readily transferable to a pathway for credentialing. Although her experience in business is helpful, it’s deemed insufficient to “count” toward demonstrating her readiness for ministry. Sarah is required to take a number of classes, some of which cover topics in which Sarah is already an expert.
Since educational pathways are built for ministerial candidates without her experience, education, and needs, Sarah initially has to “wait” to practice the ministry her local church needed, while seeking education to attain licensing. This slows Sarah’s ministerial process down, diminishes her congregation’s ability to flourish, and leaves Sarah discouraged about fulfilling her call to ministry.
People like Sarah will benefit from a shift to competency-based ministerial education. This approach readily certifies prior learning while developing the candidate in targeted growth areas. Additionally, the ministry competencies focus on developing ministers who are fit for sustainable ministry–both academically and holistically. This approach will create more opportunity for The Wesleyan Church to cultivate a well-trained body of clergy, while also maintaining our commitment to robust ministerial training.
Tracking education via competencies allows Sarah to demonstrate proficiency in content, character, and craft. Academic competency in content (relating to theory and information typically accrued through academic coursework) is attained by educational experiences and courses. Local Church competency in character (ethics, calling, personality) and craft (skill, praxis) may be evaluated by a ministry mentor, who–through an approved program–oversees the candidates’ praxis in the local church.
The pilot of the “Competency Transcript” lays out competencies –based on feedback from ministry education and formation leaders across the denomination–into academic and local church competencies:
The “equipping” portion of this process will pair a candidate like Sarah with a ministry mentor, with mentor and mentee engaging in the work of ministry while working on development, achievement, and assessment of those local church competencies. In short: academic foundations remain crucial, even as we emphasize the importance of practicing supervised ministry while being equipped.
“Wesleyan ministry development leaders have kept asking, ‘How do we equip people for ministry in the local church with real ministry experience?’ ‘How can we emphasize academic education while mentoring candidates in actual ministry?’” said Rev. Joel Liechty, Director of Education and Clergy Development. “This emphasis–on both academics and mentored ministry–has emerged in our ministry competencies.”
This integration of academic education and congregational formation brings together the kinds of resources and relationships necessary for a life of effective service to the church, whether as a lay minister, licensed minister, or ordained minister. In a competency-based program, candidates like Sarah can demonstrate pre-existing competence while working on targeted growth areas. This focuses energy on areas of needed development while certifying attainment of prior learning, all while the candidate is serving in ministry. The Wesleyan Church will now continue to equip ministers, even as we also help them become more deeply rooted in the congregations they serve.For more on how ECD is equipping those called to ministry, visit wesleyan.org/called.