In my last article I talked about nine significant changes that will be made to the Church of God Credentialing Manual and which will go into effect following the Be Bold conference in Wichita in June. If you missed it, click here to read.
In this article I want to talk about the financial cost of a state/regional ministry doing credentials so that you have some idea of what is involved in providing credentialing services to pastors and congregations. The information in this article grew out of my own personal curiosity. One day as I was reflecting on our credentialing process, I wondered what the time investment was for Indiana Ministries’ staff, credentialed ministers who voluntarily serve on various ordination and licensing teams, and the Department of Ministry Services. (The organizational component that oversees credentialing in Indiana and handles issues related to a pastor or congregation’s credential standing.)
Here is what I found. On a typical year, fulfilling Indiana Ministries’ credentialing responsibilities involves over 3,000 hours invested by both IM staff and volunteers who serve in this ministry area. That totals almost 60 hours a week for 52 weeks – not allowing for any days off, holidays, vacation, etc. That would be the equivalent of one person working time and a half every single day of the year just to manage, coordinate, and complete the credentialing responsibilities for our state.
Of those 3,000 hours, approximately half are completed by the IM staff and half are time donated by credentialed ministers and, in some cases – such as inquiry or investigative teams who handle credentialing charges or problems – laypersons. Wow! I often tell our Ordination & Licensing Teams (three teams with approximately five persons each), Department of Ministry Services, and I-Team members how much we appreciate their willingness to serve and donate time to help IM fulfill this responsibility. There is no way IM could provide quality credentialing services without the willingness of people to serve.
I also computed the cost involved for 3,000 hours. The cost is equivalent to over $115,000 per year for IM to do credentialing. Approximately half of that cost is an IM budget expense and the other half is the value of the hours donated by various ministers and laypersons. And keep in mind that is an annual cost. The decadal cost is over a million dollars not accounting for inflation (based on 2017 dollars). Again, wow! That is a LOT of money. (I’ve talked to a couple of similar sized state/regional pastors who indicate that is consistent with their costs.)
I cannot help but wonder what we could accomplish if we didn’t have to allocate so much to the credentialing aspect of ministry. On the surface spending that much money on credentialing pastors and congregations and addressing credentialing issues seems like poor stewardship. But then when I consider how important it is to vet persons who desire to be credentialed as ordained ministers and the damage that can be done when a credentialed minister or recognized congregation acts inappropriately, the amount doesn’t seem so outrageous. Although I do wish we could find ways to decrease that cost so that dollars and pastors’ time can be spent more on the heart of our mission.
Some form of credentialing pastors is necessary. One doesn’t have to be involved in state/regional ministry very long to see the incredible damage that is inflicted for multiple generations when pastors and/or congregations act inappropriately. Individuals, couples, families and even entire congregations experience great trauma and pain when the dark side of Christ followers gains a foothold. It is heart breaking and can get pretty heavy in time. I appreciate the persons involved in Indiana Ministries (both staff and volunteers) who help shoulder this load and work to be redemptive at all levels when inappropriate behavior occurs. Again, thank you to each person who has or is currently working in any capacity related to the credentialing process in Indiana… and other states/regions. The investment you make is priceless.
And thank you to the congregations and individuals who financially support Indiana Ministries. Your gifts help resource us to provide this valuable service. Without you we would not have the finances or people resources to serve so capably.
I am privileged to serve you as the Indiana Ministries Executive Pastor. Thank you for the confidence and trust you place in me. My prayer is that I will not let you down but will serve you faithfully and with passion.