Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
FAST TRACK Go to www.efca.org, type “credentialing” in the search box and explore, then contact the district office at email@example.com requesting a phone appointment. Also, become acquainted with Steps to Credentialing.
The Evangelical Free Church was born out of a heritage of commitment to the authority and inerrancy of Scripture. The absolute truth of God’s Word is the objective standard by which we are to lead our lives and represent the Lord Jesus Christ to a needy world.
The trademark of our high and uncompromised view of Scripture is arguably the most definitive trait of the Evangelical Free Church of America. It only follows that those who lead our churches and ministries be held accountable to an objective standard. While far from perfect, the credentialing process of the EFCA has proven to be a reliable vehicle to that end.
Who should seek licensure or ordination?
While requirements will vary from church to church, it is strongly urged that any pastoral staff member of an EFCA church who is engaged in ministry for 30 hours or more per week consider pursuit of a ministry credential. While it is legally possible for a local congregation to bestow a ministry credential upon an individual, there is an issue of integrity involved as we seek to be a consistent witness to outside observers. One example would be the IRS, who currently views the EFCA as a trustworthy and qualified credentialing agency. Another would be the United States military branches. An EFCA credential insures not only consistency in doctrinal position but suggests a spirit of teachable accountability to others. A local church credential, while accepted by certain governmental agencies, could short-circuit the high level of doctrinal excellence and accountability we desire from our pastors.
What are the requirements for credentialing?
A candidate for licensure or ordination in the EFCA must:
- be a member in good standing of a local Evangelical Free Church
- subscribe without mental reservation to the EFCA Statement of Faith, and agree to reaffirm that commitment every five year
- be engaged in a fulltime ministry (30 hours per week or more) that qualifies for a ministerial credential
- demonstrate a cooperative spirit with the purposes and policies of the EFCA, and a lifestyle consistent with biblical standards of Christian conduct
- be examined and approved by a district ordination council or committee
- complete the prescribed course on Free Church history, doctrine, and polity as directed by the EFCA
How do I begin?
Credentialing in the EFCA originates at the local level. For that reason, you should contact the district office closest to your primary place of residence and ministry. Procedures and requirement vary slightly from region. If your primary place of residence and ministry is in the EFCA Southeast district, please notify us at firstname.lastname@example.org of your desire.
Important note: In the event that a divorce and/or remarriage is part of either your background or that of your spouse, an entirely separate procedure must precede the credentialing process to determine eligibility. Before beginning any work toward an EFCA credential, please obtain the material which elaborates on this subject. Again, request this from email@example.com.
Steps Toward Credentialing (excerpts)
The following are excerpts from the Steps Toward Credentialing document.
Purpose of Ministerial Credentials
The purpose of a ministerial credential is (1) to affirm God’s call upon a person’ life; (2) to verify that this person meets the qualifications and standards for ministry in the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA); (3) to approve this person for ministerial service under the auspices of the EFCA, and (4) to provide legal status in the exercise of that person’s ministry.
Types of Ministerial Credentials
There are four types of credentials for ministry issued by the EFCA: Certificate of Ordination, Certificate of Christian Ministry, Ministry License, and Recommendation for Ministry.
Certificate of Ordination
This credential is designed specifically for those involved in pastoral ministry. It may be issued to candidates who (1) are male in gender; (2) are involved in pastoral ministry (seminary professors, military chaplains and missionary church planters are also eligible); (3) have completed an M.Div. degree or its equivalent in an evangelical seminary (unless an exception is made by the Board of Ministerial Standing in recognition of the candidate’s knowledge and experience); (4) have completed the requirements for a ministerial license; (5) have been approved by an examining council; and (6) have demonstrated gifts in ministry to the satisfaction of the Board of Ministerial Standing.
The candidate for ordination must have held a ministry license for a full licensing period of three years in the EFCA (This requirement may be waived in certain situations for military chaplains who are assured a chaplain’s appointment.)
A transfer of ordination from an acceptable ordaining agency is possible, and the three year licensure period will be waived. However, the candidate must meet the same qualifications and follow the same procedure for transfer as the individual moving from licensure to ordination (see booklet for full details).
Certificate of Christian Ministry
This credential is designed specifically for those involved in professional church ministries other than pastoral ministry. It may be issued to candidates who (1) are involved in church ministry (such as associate/assistant pastor, administrative pastor, youth pastor, minister of music, pastoral counselor, women’s minister, children’s minister, etc.), institutional ministry, military chaplainry, missionary ministry and evangelistic ministry; (2) have completed an appropriate degree for their area of ministry from a recognized college or seminary (unless an exception is made by the Board of Ministerial Standing in recognition of the candidate’s knowledge and experience(; (3) have completed the requirements of a ministerial license; (4) have been approved by an examining council; and (5) have demonstrated gifts in ministry to the satisfaction of the Board of Ministerial Standing.
The candidate must have held a ministry license for a full licensing period of three years in the EFCA.
This credential is designed specifically for those who are preparing for a permanent credential but have not yet fulfilled the requirements. It is valid only as long as the holder remains active in the kind of ministry for which the license was issued. It will be issued for three years and, thereafter, one year at a time until a permanent credential is obtained (up to two additional years).
Recommendation for Ministry
This credential is designed specifically for certain lay ministers and student ministers. The candidate must be male in gender, and either a layman engaged in pastoral ministry or a theological student carrying out pastor/teacher functions in the local church (this is not intended for internships unless the candidate is serving as a senior pastor).
Again, begin by contacting the EFCA Southeast district office at firstname.lastname@example.org.