Preparation for Ministry of Word and Sacrament
This part of the manual is a guide for the classis and the candidate in the process introduced above. The process begins when a person indicates interest in being trained for ministry, and it ends when the candidate receives the Certificate of Fitness for Ministry. The classis and its Candidate Care Committee are expected to walk with the candidate through the care process as outlined in this manual.
NBTS, WTS, or MFCA guides the candidate’s education, in conjunction with the classis, until the certification process is completed, focusing on the following five areas:
1. Academic preparation--successful completion of the fields of study as required by the Book of Church Order (Chapter 1, Part II, Article 8, Section 6, a and b), normally fulfilled through the attainment of a Master of Divinity degree at an accredited seminary.
2. Spiritual formation--manifest progress in the candidate’s faith journey as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
3. Ministry development--affirmation of gifts and calling, development of competencies for ministry in such areas as preaching, teaching, congregational care, evangelism, administration, and equipping church members for ministry.
4. Personal wholeness--pursuit of reasonable health in all the significant aspects of life, including the physical, psychological, and social.
5. Denominational identity--knowledge of the history, mission, worship, polity, and confessional statements of the RCA, as well as demonstrated loyalty to the denomination and its program.
The General Synod of 2006 adopted the following eight criteria as the standards for preparing individuals for the ordained ministry. NBTS, WTS, and MFCA each design a curriculum and program that uniquely qualifies the candidate for the Certificate of Fitness for Ministry according to these criteria:
#1 (Personal Faith and Evangelism)
Demonstrate a mature personal faith in Jesus Christ and commitment and skill in nurturing others to embrace that faith.
Demonstrate a life worthy of the gospel, a sense of call to the Office of Minister of Word and Sacrament, an understanding of that office in the Reformed tradition, and a commitment to its responsibilities.
Demonstrate a thorough understanding of the Scripture (with sufficient Greek and Hebrew to understand nuances of the biblical text), commitment to its authority as Word of God, and insight in its interpretation.
#4 (History and Theology)
Demonstrate a thorough understanding of the history and teachings of the Christian church, and insight in their interpretation.
#5 (Reformed Tradition)
Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of and commitment to Reformed doctrine, government, and worship.
Demonstrate the skill and understanding required to lead the people of God in faithfulness to their mission.
#7 (Pastoral Care)
Demonstrate skill, understanding, and compassion in caring for persons and congregations.
#8 (Worship and Preaching)
Demonstrate skill and understanding to lead worship, preach the gospel, and administer the sacraments.