REVOLUTIONIZING THE CREDENTIALING PROCESS IN ENGLISH…AND SPANISH!
Responding to a shared desire and need to redesign and refocus training for individuals called to vocational ministry, several states began to cooperatively pool their financial and leadership resources. The vision was to create a shared process that was boldly Christ-centric, missionally driven, and provided training that specifically addresses essential core leadership competencies needed for the challenges of ministry today. The nationally adopted credentials training program Leadership Focus grew out of those grassroots endeavors and began to greatly impact and unite our efforts in preparing those called to ministry in the Church of God.
From the beginning, the desire was to expand and make available the same training process to Spanish-speaking individuals. Partnership with the Hispanic Council (Concilio Hispano) provided the avenue to fulfill that goal. The Concilio directors identified a core team of leaders who could begin to create the steps and provide the means by which all materials could be translated into Spanish. Coaches were identified and trained, and Spanish resources were selected. In the spring of 2017, the Concilio and various assemblies began to identify Spanish-speaking leaders seeking credentials in the Church of God. Sixteen men and women across the nation, from Puerto Rico to California, enrolled in the first launch of the Spanish track of Leadership Focus (LF). Four clusters with Spanish-speaking coaches began the journey.
There are four foundational principles that guide every cluster meeting and every moment of training and equipping in both the Spanish and English Leadership Focus tracks:
- Spiritual Formation—We encourage each candidate to seek a continually growing and vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. While we teach a number of concepts, it is most imperative that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is producing a maturing and deepening faith. LF is committed to helping candidates address doubts, fears, hopes, and calling. Each cluster meeting begins with a scripture passage on which the whole meeting is based. Prayer is practiced as the source for the most powerful and effective force of healing and transformation available to us.
- Competencies—While spiritual formation is at the heart of our core principles, it is our firm belief that competency in leadership and ministry is similarly essential. We focus on helping each candidate know themselves and understand how God has created them, as well as how life experiences have informed them. Using that knowledge then to additionally understand others and how to work with them, build team, manage conflict, understand church lifecycles, and handle theological truths are part of the specific training and skills addressed.
- Community—Each candidate in both tracks is assigned to a diverse cluster comprised of five to six members that they meet with on a monthly basis. These clusters are a safe place where candidates can share their heart concerns and know that they will not be shared with anyone else. It is also a sacred place! So, while cluster member share their hearts, struggles, and journey in a safe place, it is also a place where they meet with God and allow him to speak through other cluster members and coaches who love them and join them in accountability and healing.
- Missional—The last fifty years of training pastors was bent on being “church-focused.” Traditional training focused on how to lead boards and committees, how to perform weddings and funerals, how to write bylaws, and how to preach sermons. While those skills are indeed necessary, they must not be the focus or vision of the pastor or congregation. Missional leadership restores the concept that we are stewards, not owners! Missional focus does not say church-centric, but rather Christ-centric, which means we are focused on Jesus and his mission. According to Scripture, he is focused on reaching people who need a Savior—that is his mission. He made that clear to us in the Great Commission and in Acts 1:7. Our call is to fulfill God’s work, not simply keep meetings and programs going. LF emphasizes that a pastor’s calling is to help each individual in the church become missional in their community again.
All four of the foundational principles are woven into every element of what a candidate experiences in LF. Candidates in both the English and Spanish tracks experience six modules of study, dialogue, assignments and training. Each module takes approximately six months to complete.
- Commencement—tackling the application process, reference documents, background check, assessments, debrief, and orientation meetings.
- Competencies—understanding their own personalities and hardwiring, as well as that of others; learning various key skills in ministerial and missional leadership.
- Character—beginning to write the sixteen theological statements, and exploring healthy personal and financial boundaries and ministerial ethics.
- Confessions—finishing the sixteen theological statements and exploring the doctrines and beliefs of the Church of God.
- Connections—intentionally connecting to the Church of God, our history and heritage, to Church of God missions around the world, and to the community in which God has set the candidate and the congregation they serve.
- Celebrations—writing a Life And Ministry Plan (L.A.M.P.); setting goals and a specific focus for the journey ahead, and providing for accountability and connectivity.
There are a number of the exciting goals underway for the Spanish track of LF:
- Translate all the materials from the English LF track.
- Identify equivalent quality Spanish-language books and resources.
- Creating new and fresh Spanish resources specifically for those preparing for ministry in the Church of God.
- Assist Church of God assemblies across the nation in helping their credentials committees communicating well with their Spanish-speaking candidates.
- Empower Church of God assemblies to thoughtfully integrate Spanish-speaking ministers into their leadership and programming.
There are many other experiences and significant training moments in LF for all candidates. We anticipate a growing number of Spanish-speaking candidates as the Concilio and more of our assemblies begin to utilize this excellent training program.
If you would like to know more about the Spanish Leadership Focus track or if you know of individuals answering the call to ministry who would like to be part of this training program, please contact Jeannette Flynn at JFlynn@chog.org.