We Value Credentialing: Ordination and Licensure
We fully believe that every full time pastor should have a credential with the EFCA. For many new pastors and for those who transfer into the EFCA, it may seem like a daunting task, but we believe that the process of becoming fully credentialed will be more than worth the effort and will allow you to serve more effectively in the Free Church.
First and foremost, having a Free Church credential is a significant step in clarifying God’s call on your life. Secondly, it gives assurance to you and to your congregation that you not only understand the doctrines and policies of the EFCA, but that you also affirm and meet these expectations. Thirdly, you will receive public denominational affirmation that you are approved for ministry in a Free Church. Lastly, there will be no doubt as to your legal status in the exercise of your ministry as a pastor.
In the Central District the first step is to contact our credentialing staff member, Mark Doss. It is also helpful to view our credentialing information.
We Value the Right Fit for Serving in Ministry: Placement
We believe God has granted us a district with uncommonly gifted pastors and, because of that, we have had many long-tenured pastor/church relationships. However, eventually every church or pastor will need assistance with placement. There comes a time when we need to add staff, or replace a valued team member who has retired or moved on. There might also come a time when you yourself sense that God may be releasing you from your current ministry to seek a new calling.
We value an approach that considers pastoral giftedness in tandem with the skills and gifts required by an open position. Our goal is to match the two in a way which allows those gifts to be used to their fullest potential for both the pastor and church.
Whether you are looking to find a new team member for your church or you are considering a new calling, we suggest two steps for you to make use of the placement ministry of the district. First, review our placement website, ministerconnection.net. Additionally, at some point during the process, you’ll want to contact the District Superintendent, Calvin Swan. One of his main roles is to help pastors and churches think through the issues of finding a new ministry or seeking a new staff pastor.
We Value Being Available: Connecting with a Staff Member
As a pastor you are expected to make dozens of decisions each week, from simple ones to the complex. You do it so routinely that you may even forget that it’s a great skill with which you have been blessed. Yet from time to time, you may encounter situations that leave you perplexed. If you have good friends in the ministry, they are often the first resource to use. We value ministry friendships and encourage you to build these vital lifelines.
However, there are times when situations are so baffling, you’ll recognize the need for some other outside perspective. In cases like these, we value being available to connect with you. We love to talk about ministry situations and are eager to do so with you. Often it will be clear to you who on our staff to call based on the type of situation. If you’re not sure, do not hesitate to contact the District Superintendent. He will be glad to help you clarify what you’re dealing with and, if necessary, direct you to the staff member who can be of most assistance to you. As pastors we are all in this together and, as district staff, we feel that there is no question that is unimportant to us. We are here to serve you.
We Value a Sabbath Rhythm to Ministry: Living the Sabbath
Ministry can be difficult work. In many ways a pastor is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As such, to remain effective throughout your entire lifetime of ministry, it’s imperative for you as a pastor to develop a healthy rhythm to your week, your month, and your year. Sabbath is deeply ingrained in the character of God and, as pastors, we are called upon by God to model this lifestyle. Following this model is so key to our mission of promoting healthy churches, that we provide resources to help you integrate this pattern in your own life and ministry. Larry Austin, our Director of Church Health, is your primary contact to discuss establishing a rhythm of Sabbath for effective ministry.
We also value periodic sabbaticals for pastors as an important part of this ministry rhythm. In a number of ways, a ministry sabbatical is different than that taken by other professionals, such as a “study leave.” A true sabbatical allows a pastor to enter deeply into a rest relationship with God. While study and learning is also a component of the sabbatical, the experience will be qualitatively different. Because of the Central District’s appreciable committment to this as a vital part of ministry, we provide funding for a limited number each year. Contact the Superintendent, Calvin Swan, regarding your questions about sabbatical leave and to request a copy of the sabbatical policy. He would be pleased to talk with your or one of your church leaders.
We Value Collegial Relationships: Connecting with Other Pastors
Throughout our district we have pastors who meet in regular clusters, ministerials, or cohorts. While the names of these groups vary depending on the purpose of the gathering and the region in which they take place, the primary reason is the same. These groups provide opportunities to build supportive friendships, discuss challenging ministry situations, and strengthen our commitment of a lifetime calling to serve Christ and his church. We do not currently have a ministerial grouping in every part of the district, but we are always available to assist you in integrating with an existing group or to help you in the process of creating a new one. Contact Larry Austin with your questions.
We Value Strengthening Pastors and Spouses: Events and Retreats
There are two main events that we encourage every pastor to attend. These include the Annual Central District Conference, held each year in March, and one of the two Pastor and Ministry Spouse Retreats, which take place in both the north and south regions each fall. These events are designed to refresh and strengthen pastors along with their spouses.
The events bring in top quality speakers, who both encourage and challenge us from the Word. Additionally the gatherings provide plenty of time to build healthy and enduring relationships with other pastors. With an understanding for the unique role and challenges ministry wives often face, we have developed a particular ministry of encouragement for them, which is also a part of these events.
Every spring we also host “affinity retreats” based upon the type of ministry in which the pastor is serving. These retreats, called the M+Club, the S+Team, or the Solo Pastor Retreat, have been called the most valuable equipping events of their year by many pastors. We encourage you to take advantage of these events. Contact Superintendent Calvin Swan or Larry Austin if you have not yet participated and would like to become involved.
We Value Providing a Place to Meet with God at Rock River
Recognizing the numerous demands on a pastor’s time and constant noise in life, we came to the conclusion that it would be valuable to provide our pastors with a quiet retreat house to simply “get away” for a time of quiet refreshment. Our goal was to provide a place to slow down and simply spend quality time with one’s spouse or with God—to have it quiet enough to truly listen to those two most important voices in your life. The Lodge at Rock River is available to you at no cost for that express purpose.
Located just south of Webster City, IA, on the beautiful Rock River Retreat campus, the lodge overlooks a small lake. The lodge is fully furnished and designed for your quiet retreat. Contact Rhonda Nichols in the district office to reserve the lodge.