For some, a decision allowing certain Christian Reformed congregations to call a ministry associate as their sole pastor came just in time.
In 2008, synod (the annual leadership meeting of the CRC) affirmed that ministry associates, who often lack a seminary education, may serve as sole pastors in congregations that are culturally different from the larger denomination. The rule is for cultures in which seminary-trained ministers are in short supply.
Two months after that vote, Classis Red Mesa (a regional grouping of churches) launched its long-awaited Leadership Development Network.
The theological training offered by the network will prepare local leaders to serve Christian Reformed churches in New Mexico and Arizona. Synod’s decision clears the way for some graduates to become ministry associates in churches that have been struggling without pastors.
Christian Reformed Home Missions Regional Team Leader Rev. Stanley Jim said the training provides many paths to ministry. Besides producing ministry associates, it may inspire some students to attend seminary and others to become better lay leaders.
“We’re taking a theological education to them where they are, but not shutting the door to seminary,” he said.
Jim said local training is important because teaching that undermines Reformed doctrine is making inroads in the area.
“My hope is that the leaders will be faithfully trained and able to minister to their own people,” he said.