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A Pathway for Vocational Ministry

As a non-denominational church, AC3 stands independently. In other words, organizationally speaking, there is not an authority outside Allen Creek to which we are accountable. Of course as leaders and as people we are all accountable to God (Romans 14:12). But responsibility for day to day operations, establishment of mission and vision, preparation of teaching materials, church discipline, finances and evangelistic efforts fall to men and women from inside the church family of AC3.

This provides us great freedom. As a church we can be very “light on our feet” and the decision-making process stays very close to the people whom the decisions directly affect. There’s not a lot of “management”. It also means that when insuring we stay aligned with historic, Biblical faith, we must be doubly aware and intentional about how teaching and decision making authorities are conferred. There is no one else but “us” to decide if someone is qualified “to teach”. (2 Timothy 2:2)

Our Elder selection process reflects the sobriety and weight we give to this responsibility. Since there is no “higher authority” for approval, the process is extensive, detailed and very thorough.

In recent years, our attention has turned to a similar leadership role: that of pastor. A technical case can be made that “pastor” is not an office or position in the church. While it’s true that the term “pastor” is not used in the Bible for a specific position, Paul does mention “…elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” It’s from this (and other) Biblical references that we see the role most people refer to as pastor emerging, and it’s from this passage in particular that we see a precedent for vocational (paid) positions.

AC3 has an Elder selection process that has served us well for nearly 25 years. But how do we select a “pastor”?

First: Don’t worry. No one is leaving! But the pastoral staff IS aging, and consideration must be made for the next generation of “teaching elders”. Without denominational oversight, it was up to the existing leadership team to develop a process as robust and effective as the elder selection process for the welcoming of new members of the pastoral staff.

We think we’ve done that, and we want you to know about it. If you would like to read about in detail, just click HERE.

Following is a brief summary:

Candidates for vocational ministry must complete a 4-step process before they are eligible to be considered for ordination at AC3.

1.    Affirmation. The church body must recognize the giftings, character, and capacity of the individual. This recognition is codified in the following 4 steps:

  1.  A formal interview with the pastoral staff.
  2.  A formal interview with the Elders.
  3.  Submission of (2) written references from AC3 members.
  4.  Submission of (2) written references from Christians outside AC3.

  2.    Academics. Candidates must have successfully completed Bible school training from an institution recognized by AC3 Pastors and Elders.

  3.    Apostolic Succession. The completion of Bible School studies must result in that institution awarding a license to the candidate under their by-laws. This connects the candidates training to an unbroken line of training extending back to the Apostles.

  4.    Apprenticeship. Candidates will serve under the direct supervision and mentor-ship of existing AC3 pastor(s) for a minimum of one year.

Completion of these 4 steps results in the candidate meeting basic qualifications for acceptance as an AC3 pastor, but does not guarantee it nor guarantee a paid position.

It is hoped that this monumental step is seen with great joy! It was motivated, in part, by conversations with AC3’rs who expressed a longing to serve this church vocationally, and that is a huge encouragement. It speaks to the hope and expectation that what God has begun at Allen Creek will endure far beyond the direct influence of those with whom He started!

Philippinas 1:6 “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
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