The program requires students to take 12 hours of coursework on the foundations of congregational vitality, healthy missional change, and strategic ministry planning. Students also completed a fourth elective as well as field work, which included attending three vitality workshops held live in a local church and shadowing a conference director of congregational vitality for a day.
“No one could have predicted the immense popularity this certificate program would have among working pastors, current seminary students, and lay leaders alike,” said John Wenrich, the ECC director of congregational vitality. The courses reached their maximum enrollment of 25 students.
Participant Erin Johnson remarked, “I have learned some outstanding theories, models, and tactics to take home to my particular church. Almost more important, I’ve entered into a community of pastors, students, and lay leaders who are pursuing these concepts in their contexts.”
The seminary, which developed the program in collaboration with the ECC, will launch a second cycle of courses in October. Anyone who enrolls in the program during this second cycle will get a 50 percent discount on tuition, which will reduce cost from the $7,000 regular fee to roughly $3,500.
The program is open to ministers and lay leaders who are interested in pursuing healthier ministry in their church, Wenrich said. “It is also being used as a ‘farm team’ system to identify and develop future vitality champions, facilitators, coaches, and directors of congregational vitality.”
He added, “The certificate represents our growing collaboration between the denomination and the seminary, combining scholarship and practice.”