Preparing for ordination

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) identified 16 competencies in which any ministerial leader will want to demonstrate knowledge and skill and grow toward competency and maturity, if not mastery. These are a good base for any reflection on ministry, particularly in the traditional streams of congregational and institutional life. I think there are other topics that could be added for those working “outside the system”, which I will discuss in another post.

The following are a set of questions developed by the Christian Church in West Virgina that form a good starting place for reflection:



As you review them, make note of those areas where you have invested energies in self-improvement, either through self-guided study, continuing education events, or other means, in the course of the past year. You may keep this work sheet among your own notes, and prepare from it a response to the appropriate question on the standing form, or simply attach a copy of this to your standing form. Be sure to let us know what areas of concern you have for future development of regional and other programming. We want to do all that we can to assist you in this process.
1. What 3 competencies involve ministerial activities that are most interesting and engaging to me?
2. Which of these more interesting areas have I spent time and effort in learning and other self-improvement activities over the past 1-2 years (describe type of efforts involved)?
3. What 3 competencies involve ministerial activities that are less interesting or more difficult for me to enjoy?
4. Which of these less interesting areas have I spent time and effort in learning and other self-improvement activities over the past 1-2 years (describe type of efforts involved)?
5. Which one or two competency areas would I like to have resources and time to focus on in the coming year?
6. If the Regional Church could help provide a single-purpose learning event on any one subject (or competency area) in the coming year, what should it be?
General Commission on Ministry Competency Areas
Competency Areas
1. Biblical Knowledge
2. Church Administration and Planning
3. Communication
4. Cross Cultural and Anti-Racism Experience
5. Ecumenism
6. Education and Leader Development
7. Ethics
8. Evangelism
9. Mission of the Church in the World
10. Pastoral Care
11. Proclamation of the Word
12. Spiritual Development
13. Stewardship
14. Theology
15. Understanding of Heritage Competency
16. Worship
Team Members: Belva Brown Jordan, Bill Inglish, Carlos Cardoza, Tim Lee, Irvin Green, Rick Lowery, Dan Moseley, Rebecca Hale
Be rooted and grounded in scripture and able to interpret and apply the scriptures in ways that are appropriate to original and contemporary contexts.
• Practice regular Bible study as a spiritual discipline;
• Read biblical texts from both testaments effectively for preaching and worship, interpreting them in light of the gospel and relating them to the life of faith today;
• Analyze biblical texts using current scholarly methods;
• Assess and use critical commentaries and other resources (for example, print and online “sermon helps” and lectionary studies);
• Describe in broad terms the historical development of the Bible, including the social, economic, and political contexts out of which biblical literature grew;
• Distinguish literary genres and theological “schools of thought” that appear in the Bible;
• Identify the role which the experience and culture of the reader plays in the interpretation of biblical texts.
Be able to practice the principles of good administration, planning and implementing short- and long-range goals to enhance congregational life in collaboration with teams and committees.
• Select an appropriate leadership style – adjusted according to the constituency and context – to maximize one’s personal potential;
• Develop a work plan that demonstrates an understanding of congregational/contextual dynamics;
• Identify how race, ethnicity, class, gender and orientation shape, define and influence leadership needs and expectations;
• Perform necessary and appropriate administrative tasks (e.g., organizational analysis, working with ledgers and budgets, giving direction to a team, hiring practices, computer skills and electronic communication);
• Practice self-care and time management based on a well-grounded theological understanding.


Be an effective communicator and be able to facilitate effective communication within and on behalf of the church.
• Use appropriate and effective communication styles and tools in order to inspire, inform, and invite participation in the life, mission, and purposes of the Church;
• Effectively use communication skills for public and small group conversations and speaking;
• Employ the appropriate pastoral role, given the circumstance – when to guide and/or when to participate in conversations or discussion;
• Select and use appropriate technology and media to convey the message and mission of the congregation;
• Utilize communication skills that promote effective, positive relations with staff, boards, agencies, congregation, and other relevant groups/communities;
• Distinguish between and clarify the formal (explicit) from the informal (tacit) roles, rules, rituals and relationships in any church structure with which you are working.
Be sensitive to the different manifestations of racism and prejudice in the culture and be committed to confronting and overcoming them.
General guideline: Be sensitive to the different manifestations of racism and prejudice in the culture and be committed to confronting and overcoming them.
• Articulate images of a God who is manifest and present among members of every culture and race;
• Practice ministry, both within one’s own culture and the Church universal, informed by domestic and global responses to the needs of God’s people;
• Nurture faith in others, understanding and teaching that everyone’s faith is contextual and influenced by such factors as, race, gender, class, and culture;
• Utilize scriptural resources, theology, tradition, and personal experience, to identify and oppose racism as both unchristian and ungodly;
• Model ministry that enhances the church and the world, by embracing and celebrating racial and cultural diversity;
• Help those with whom you do ministry to understand that racism is essentially systemic, but influences the attitudes and behavior of people of all races;
• Draw on the ministry of Jesus Christ, to present the opposition to racism and the embrace of every culture, as “welcoming the stranger.”
Exhibit a commitment to working with other Christians and denominations and with other faiths in programs of common witness and service, and to articulating the vision of the ecumenical and global church as a starting place for mission.
• Articulate why the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) highly values ecumenism, drawing on resources from our tradition;
• Articulate a theology of ecumenism, drawing on resources from scripture and tradition;
• Articulate a theology of Christians relating to non-Christian faiths, a theology that is respectful and truthful, a theology that reflects the candidate’s own faith stance, all the while recognizing multiple ways in which such relationship can be construed;
• Use ecumenical resources and design ecumenical worship services;

• Describe and theologically reflect upon at least one significant ecumenical experience, be it a worship, a social justice activity, or a dialogical activity in which you took an active role;

• Describe and theologically reflect upon at least one significant interfaith experience, be it a worship service, a social justice activity, or an interfaith dialogue in which you took an active role.
Know the foundations of Christian education and the principles of leader development. Show competency in teaching children, youth, and adults, including lay leaders and staff.
• Use analytical skills for assessing, evaluating and selecting curriculum and Christian education materials best suited for a ministry context;
• Practice respect for the ways culture, community and experience, inform and shape the teaching task;
• Participate in the dynamic educational process that involves both teaching and learning for the teacher and the learner;
• Utilize knowledge of the foundations for Christian education and principles for leader development when teaching children, youth and adults;
• Employ an understanding of the issues characteristic of each stage of human development and how those issues impact learning and shape various learning styles.
Be able to help parishioners think critically about the relationship of their faith to issues of justice, ethics and morality.
• Adhere to The Ministerial Code of Ethics in the conduct of ministry, and model personal behavior consistent with the fundamental principles of Christian ethics;
• Lead in ways that call forth ethical conduct among individuals and groups within the church;
• Relate resources from scripture and tradition to specific ethical issues today;
• Preach and teach effectively about social and economic justice as core concerns of Christian faith;
• Address ethical issues raised by culturally-imbedded racism, sexism, heterosexism, and classism;
• Describe the role personal/communal experience and cultural perspective play in ethical reasoning and be able to apply a variety of approaches.
Be able to motivate Congregational members to share their faith through word and action.
• Articulate a theological and biblical basis for evangelism consistent with the faith perspectives and approaches of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ);
• Understand evangelism as it is linked to discipleship and faith development;
• Use various media and technologies in proclaiming the gospel in current contexts and social milieus;
• Show sensitivity to how cultural and generational differences call for a variety of evangelistic approaches;
• Implement evangelistic expressions that are informed by the pluralistic realities of contemporary life, being respectful of matters of race, culture, and interfaith relationships;
• Understand the church as an evangelical community in which people are invited to participate in and to themselves become good news for one another and the world;
• Understand the differences between evangelism and church growth strategies.

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