One of my portfolio responsibilities in our region is to provide staff oversight to our Church Leadership Institute (CLI). This is a program designed to train leaders within the churches of our region. CLI consists of two tracks. The first track has eight classes that can be completed in two years and leads to a Certificate in Church Leadership. The second track is for those who have completed the first track. It includes an additional five courses that can be completed in 14 months and leads to a Diploma in Pastoral Ministry. Today we graduated six Diploma students from this program.
The diploma program is designed particularly for bivocational ministers, but we've had a number of students earn their diploma who have no intention of going into pastoral ministry. They believe the courses we offer will help them be better lay leaders within their current churches, and they are right. If I was a local church pastor I would want every lay leader, and potential leader, to be CLI students. We don't take the place of seminary, but we provide some excellent training for persons who are not able to attend seminary.
Our classes include both studies in the New and Old Testaments, theology, Baptist history as well as courses designed to teach practical ministry skills. All classes are taught at Franklin College on Saturdays by persons well qualified to teach them. Many of our instructors have earned doctorates, and all of them have years of experience and/or education in the area in which they teach. I am fortunate to teach one of the classes, Personal and Family Health, that addresses how to maintain balance in one's life and ministry.
As I was driving home from the graduation program today I wondered if there are any of my readers in Indiana who might be interested in enrolling in CLI. Although we don't have students who are not members of one of our American Baptist churches, I personally would not have a problem with church leaders from other denominations becoming CLI students. I certainly would be willing to take this idea to our Planning Team at our meeting next week. If you think you might be interested in getting some excellent church leadership training, please let me know. Although most of our students are not pastors, I am especially interested in hearing from bivocational ministers out there.