By Carl Stagner
Credentialing ministers in the Church of God is nothing new. The Church of God has always championed developing leaders and pastors. Over the years, however, it has become increasingly difficult to get the most out of credentialing systems that were adopted more than fifty years ago. Sure, many have been updated here and there, but when three states came together and said, “We can do better together,” they effectively launched an initiative that would revolutionize credentialing in the Church of God.
Polity in the Church of God is such that each individual state or region manages their credentialing process. That hasn’t changed, and won’t change. But the myriad of processes, experiences, and requirements represented across the United States and Canada have made it hard to discern what “ordained” really means from one location to the next. In some regions, the structure and staffing for the process simply haven’t met the needs of ministerial candidates.
“In Florida, we have anywhere from fifty to sixty candidates at one time,” Jeannette Flynn explains. Jeannette serves as program manager for Leadership Focus, and explains that, in the old system, there simply weren’t enough available mentors for each of those candidates. “We’d give them a list of work to do and then they’d come back and say, ‘Here you go, I did it.’ It was very non-relational,” Jeannette explains. She goes on to explain that Leadership Focus doesn’t take control of the credentialing for a state, but rather provides a way to do credentialing by building community with peers who are in the process and providing them with coaches of excellence, current and cutting-edge resources, and networking with others across the country and beyond. Through Leadership Focus, training and equipping for ministry is comprehensive, streamlined, enhanced, and unified.
The most important thing to remember, Jeannette explains, is that “Leadership Focus is a training ministry that comes alongside credentials committees, empowering them to train their candidates in ways that none of us can do individually.” Truly, we’re better together. Together, we provide online access from anywhere for ministerial candidates to work their way through six modules. Each one of the six modules are based on four foundational principles: spiritual formation, competencies, community, and missional. As a result, ministers in the Church of God come out on the other side with not only a deeper walk with Christ and a thorough understanding of theology, but also with a network of other leaders they’ve gotten to know—online and in-person—all working together to move beyond the walls of the church with the Great Commission.
“Leadership Focus begins to connect us again as a movement, rather than as individual states,” Jeannette explains. “Candidates in one cluster may be from multiple states—and even outside of the country. They are realizing that we’re greater than just what’s happening in our local state. We are beginning to explore how Leadership Focus participants can benefit from an international approach. We now have one coach and three candidates who live internationally and are a part of working clusters. It’s really a great opportunity for our cluster members to not only build community among themselves, but to also get to meet some of the key leaders of the movement they might never have been exposed to otherwise.”
Church of God Ministries is excited to announce that thirteen states and regions of the Church of God have partnered with Leadership Focus so far, and five additional states are in the process of joining. The spiritually and practically enriching Leadership Focus experience is not only available to ministerial candidates in those states, but also to credentialed ministers—even those who were ordained decades ago. If your state or region hasn’t yet partnered with Leadership Focus, please encourage them to do so! Leadership Focus is another way the Domestic Ministries Team of Church of God Ministries is working for you. Visit www.choglf.org to learn more.
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