Expectations for Candidates
"He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ." (Eph 4:11) The Candidates and Credentials Committee believes very strongly that it is our Lord who raises up ministers for work in His church, and we are committed to help candidates find their calling in the church. It is a privilege to get to know the candidates and watch them grow in their ministries. The committee is committed to assist candidates navigate the process of licensure and ordination successfully.
There is something unusual in the nature of the committee's work in that the committee is tasked with examining candidates academically, while seeking to prepare them for a spiritual ministry. Over the years, the committee has found that the candidate's response to the examination process often reveals the candidate's character. The process requires the candidate to interact with his own session, the committee, presbytery as a whole, and often another session (i.e. during an internship). The is a foretaste of the interactions ministers have as presbyters, and serves as valuable training for the candidate. The committee is committed to having fit and able candidates to receive calls in Christ's Church.
What Candidates Should Expect from the Committee
When the presbytery takes a candidate under care, the Candidates and Credentials committee oversees their candidacy. The committee will assign a committee advisor to each candidate, who will schedule examinations and coordinate communication between the candidate and the committee. It is important for the candidate and the committee advisor to stay in touch through the process. As questions arise, they should be directed to the committee advisor.
Candidates sometimes admit to feeling put off by the prospect of examinations. It is important to recognize that it is the candidate's advantage to take the examinations sooner, rather than later, and not to unnecessarily delay licensure. If the candidate fails to pass an exam, it can be repeated. One example is the church history exam: candidates often ask, "How do I prepare for the church history exam?" The answer is to take the exam. If there are areas of weakness, reading may be assigned, and those areas of concern may be re-examined.
In the case of the oral language exams, candidates have the option of taking a "dry run" exam via Skype with the examiner. If the practice exam goes well, the candidate may then approach the in-committee exam with confidence. The committee is interested in seeing candidates do well on their exams.
The requirement for papers is similar. If a candidate has questions regarding his work on the theological essay or exegetical paper, he is encouraged to submit the unfinished paper to his advisor. Questions will be cleared up, and a stronger paper will result.
The committee usually meets on a weekday near Grand Rapids. There is usually a dinner, and any candidates in the Grand Rapids area are invited. It is a good opportunity to meet with the committee informally and to spend time with the other candidates. From time to time the committee will offer a candidate training class on a suitable topic.
What the Committee Expects from Candidates
Candidates are encouraged to become as familiar as possible with the licensure/ordination process. It is important to read the Form of Government (and of course this website!) carefully and to ask any questions as soon as possible. Your committee advisor is happy to answer questions.
It is important for candidates to stay in contact with the committee. Returning phone calls and emails is essential.
If the candidate is in seminary, he is encouraged to submit written classwork to the committee. If you are proud of your hard work, we would like to see it! This helps the committee to see how you are progressing and also helps us to keep track of the kind of work required by that particular seminary. So please do send it in.
If a candidate resides a long distance away from Grand Rapids, the committee is willing to schedule an occasional meeting near Detroit or other parts of Michigan or northern Indiana. Candidates should be sure to discuss this with their advisor so arrangements can be made.
Candidates are expected to attend presbytery meetings (in September, January, and April each year). This allows the candidates to be more familiar with how the presbytery works, and for presbyters to meet the candidates informally. Because presbytery meetings may be held in Ontario, every candidate should have a passport. If a candidate is unable to cross the border, it is possible that may interfere with timely examinations. Any issues in this area should be discussed with the committee advisor.
Candidates for licensure should discuss their scheduling of examinations with their advisor early in the process. While every effort is made to accomodate candidates, sometimes it is not possible to schedule exams as quickly as candidates may desire. Communication is the key.
English Bible Examination
About the Church History Exam