By: Jenna Campbell

Diving in deep to theological, biblical, and educational foundations of ministry, integrating theory and practice, accessing a strong network of educators across the country—all of this and more is a part of the educator certification experience.

Learning is a lifelong process. Educator certification is an excellent way to bolster the skills and knowledge needed by those who engage in educational ministries in our congregations, while providing standards for their preparation and performance. Certification of educators benefits the whole church as it equips strong, capable leaders for ministry.

Note: The certification information detailed here is specifically for the PC(USA) denomination. For those interested in certification in the Moravian Church in America, contact Joyce Vance at [email protected]. For more information about educators in the RCA, contact Jill Versteeg at [email protected] .

  1. Christian Educator Associate (CEA) is a great option for those who need training to build on their gifts and passion for ministry.

Educators enter the process at one of two appropriate levels. Christian Educator Associates (CEA) may be volunteers or employees with or without a bachelor’s or master’s degree to apply. CEAs complete coursework on Opening Doors to Discipleship (www.odtd.net) and read six selected books while engaging with their certification advisors to discuss implications for educational ministry. This is a great option for those who have been out of an educational setting for a number of years or volunteers who are unable to pursue the Certified Christian Educator level. Maybe you’re an educator who has come out of the pew to serve in educational ministry because your church recognized your gifts and skills and you need the training to back up that passion. If so, CEA is for you. Once CEA is completed, the educator can begin the process to become a Certified Christian Educator.

  1. The highest level of certification is Certified Christian Educator (CCE).

CCEs must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree and may be volunteers or employed. CCEs complete certification courses and a certification exam, which includes a Reference Group process.

  1. Certification courses are available nationwide.

Seven course areas are required for CCEs: Biblical Interpretation, Reformed Theology, Religious Education Theory and Practice, Worship and Sacraments, Human Growth and Development, Presbyterian Polity, and Presbyterian Program and Mission. These courses provide a comprehensive foundation of learning. Courses are offered nationwide in a variety of contexts. You can find a list of currently scheduled certification courses here.

  1. Certification fills in the gaps.

The long-time school teacher who is heavily involved as a volunteer in educational ministry may be an excellent teacher and administrator, but may need to learn more about how faith grows, biblical interpretation, and Reformed theology. The seminary graduate may be well versed in scripture and theology, but may need training in age level needs and teaching strategies beyond lecture.

  1. Educator Network

Everyone needs a network of smart, passionate educators to share ideas and resources. Through the certification courses, a deep network of relationships form, lasting years after the courses end.  Those who have completed the certification process say these relationships and connections are one of the most beneficial outcomes of the process.

  1. Integrative Exam Process

The exam process for the CCE is an open book exam, shaped around knowledge of the course areas. The six-month exam process culminates in an educational design that integrates theory and practice.

  1. Holistic View of Christian Formation

Certification courses and the exam place an emphasis on how the whole work of the church integrates with education. The process prepares educators to think broadly in regard to the role and place of Christian education in the church.

  1. Certification Benefits the Church

Educators who are certified provide the larger church with a consistency of standard: knowledgeable, well-informed leaders in educational ministry who share their passion for the gospel with intentionality and professionalism.

  1. Certification Benefits the Educator

Those in the field of Christian education know that learning and discipleship is a lifelong endeavor. As those who value learning as a lifelong endeavor, certification provides the next level of training and education necessary for exceptional educational ministry. Certification also gives educators access to the presbytery’s Committee on Ministry. CCEs serving within the jurisdiction of the presbytery have voice on the floor of presbytery, and vote if they are a ruling elder.

  1. Redesigned website with information at your fingertips! www.pcusa.org/christianeducators

The website has recently been updated with everything you need to know about educator certification. Educators can find the application for certification and certification course offerings, as well as resources for those seeking a call as an educator. Certification advisors can access the certification handbook, best practices for advisors, and online training for advisors and Reference Groups. The new congregational support section includes helpful ways that congregations can encourage educators and information on the call process for educators. Particularly helpful is the suggested compensation guidelines for establishing an educator’s salary.

So take a minute and reflect. Who needs this information about educator certification? Perhaps it’s your congregation’s educator. Maybe it’s a dedicated volunteer with a passion for educational ministry but who lacks the theological, Biblical, and human development foundations. Or maybe it’s you! There are currently over 650 certified educators in the PC(USA).Will you be the next one?

Jenna Campbell is a Certified Christian Educator and a member of the Educator Certification Committee for the PC(USA). A graduate of Union Presbyterian Seminary, she currently serves as the Education Coordinator at Connecting Point Presbyterian Church in Oklahoma City, OK.