The process of becoming an ordained minister in the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) is lengthy. It involves getting a proper college or seminary education necessary for the position you are seeking, working with a committee, receiving advice from a mentor and writing down clearly your religious beliefs in direct relationship to the church. It takes commitment and determination to complete each step.
The Church of God, with headquarters in Cleveland, Tennessee, is one of the largest Pentecostal denominations in the world with over seven million members in over 180 countries. The Church of God recognizes three ranks of credentialed ministers: exhorter (initial level), ordained minister (intermediate level), and ordained bishop (highest level). Women are eligible to be exhorters and ordained ministers. However, only men can become ordained bishops. There are also categories of licensed minister of Christian education and licensed minister of music.
The credentialing of Church of God ministers is a ministry formation process. In this process, the denomination partners with individuals in order to help them to fulfill their divine call and place of ministry. This developmental journey occurs through personal discovery, education, training, and becoming a credentialed minister in the Church of God.
Following are the programs which are the primary means for completing this ministry formation process:
1. Calling and Ministry Studies (CAMS).
Calling And Ministry Studies (CAMS) helps the applicants determine if they are called to clergy ministry, as well as providing knowledge about ministry. There are two sections in CAMS : seminars and individual study. The purposes of the seminars are to identify how an individual knows he/she has a divine call, to explain what the meaning and practices of ministry are, and to help the applicant determine what his/her divine call is and understand what ministry is.
The seminars, which are attended by both applicant and spouse, provide tools so that the applicants can identify if they are called to clergy ministry. The seminars also offer an explanation of the Christian ministry.
The CAMS applicant completes three Certificate in Ministerial Studies (CIMS) courses through individual study. The individual study includes conducting personal devotions about the divine call and ministry, studying about the divine call and ministry. In addition, the applicant writes three papers on the following: His/her calling into the ministry, his/her view of ministry, and his/her ministry identity. The spouses will attend the three seminars and will write the papers about their calling and understanding of ministry.
If people are interested in enrolling in CAMS, they are to talk with their pastor. The pastor will contact the state office for the application.
2. Ministerial Internship Program (MIP).
The Ministry Internship Program (MIP) of the Church of God is the final stage training ground for those that want to become ordained ministers and actively lead or help lead a congregation. As a non-denominational Cristian church with chapters all across the United States, the Church of God takes an active part in the training of new ministers, providing a two-level program that they must complete. Before entering the MIP, candidates must successfully complete the Calling and Ministry Studies Program (CAMS).
The Ministerial Internship Program was implemented throughout the United States in 1978. In 1982, the MIP was mandated by the General Assembly as a requirement for advancement from exhorter rank to the status of ordained minister. Currently, the MIP has been expanded to eighty-one countries and translated into eighteen languages. The underlying philosophy of the MIP has always been to provide ministerial preparation by practical training on the local-church level, combined with academic self-study and monthly training seminars, focusing on vital topics for spiritual leadership and ministerial effectiveness.
The purposes for Ministerial Internship Program (MIP) are . . .
– Give the minister and spouse practical training and experience at the local-church level under th supervision of a pastor.
– Develop the scriptural discipline of submission (Romans 13:1 and Hebrews 13:17)
– Provide commitment between the Church of God and the minister
– Develop in ministers the proper attitudes toward the church, the ministry, fellow ministers, and the people whom they serve
– Assist new ministers in discovering their own talents and styles for evangelistic outreach, pastoral reponsibilities, other areas of ministry, and for determining further training needs.
MIP provides intensive training under the direction of a supervising pastor for a period of eight months. The studies are completed through individual study by using the Internet study venue or the DVD study venue. MIP candidates are assigned to supervising pastors who will provide knowledge about ministry and give opportunity to develop skills for ministry during a supervised practicum. The assignments of MIP candidates to supervising pastors are made on the basis of personal training needs, geographical factors, and availability. The eight monthly seminars cover a range of materials that address ministry topics and issues. The seminars complement and add to the experience of the supervised practicum.
During the training period, the candidates and spouses follow a daily schedule of spiritual, study, and physical assignments. These involve the completion of studies, the supervised practicum, the eight seminars, and evaluations by the supervising pastor, as well as interviews at the monthly seminars.
At the conclusion of the training period, MIP candidates are commissioned and awarded a certificate of completion from Ministerial Development/School of Ministry. All students who successfully complete MIP will also receive 16 hours of credit from the School of Ministry. These CIMS credits may be transferred upon enrollment in any Church of God undergraduate college or university.
To apply for MIP, contact the denominational offices in your state or region. Ministers outside the United States should contact their national offices.
An Exhorter desiring to advance to the rank of Ordained Minister must complete an Ordained Minister/Ministerial Internship Program (MIP) Application. After successful completion of MIP, one is ready to purchase an Ordained Minister Study Guide and is eligible to test for Ordained Minister credentials.
In an effort to broaden the ministerial training experience, specializations in ministries are offered in the MIP. The specializations are (1) assistant pastor ministry, (2) chaplaincy, (3) children’s ministry, (4) Christian education ministry, (5) church planting, and (6) youth ministry. If applicants want to specialize in one of these ministries, they should contact the state MIP coordinator in their states.