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A Fresh Look At The Value Of Being Credentialed

Three Ways Credentialing Can Change Your Life

By Ava Olsen

Ava is an ordained minister with the Northwest Ministry Network who has been in full-time ministry for over 25 years. She holds a doctor of ministry degree from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (Springfield, Missouri) where she serves as the coordinator of the program. Ava has a passion and gift to inspire, raise up, and release the next generation of women in ministry to be world changers.

Ministry today is one of the most challenging, intriguing, exciting and ever-changing vocations in society. Ministers are adventurers, always living on the edge—between servanthood and authority, between the sacred and the ordinary. For all its twists and challenges, it is an aweinspiring adventure. I absolutely love being a woman in ministry! When I ponder the opportunities I have as an ordained minister, empowered by the Holy Spirit, I turn imaginary back flips (secretly emulating my 11-year-old daughter who is a competitive gymnast)! What is more mind boggling is when thousands of women with a passion for ministry leadership network together. I exclaim, "Together we can change the world!"

I share Bill Hybels' passionate conviction that the church should be the most irresistible institution in the community. "The local church is the hope of the world, and its future rests primarily in the hands of its leaders. Flourishing churches are led by people who possess and develop the gift of leadership. The church pushes back the forces of darkness when her leaders lead with their absolute best."1

"Organizational models change and evolve. One thing will never change: leaders will always be required and leadership will always involve communication, education, inspiring mutual discipline, accountability and wise collaborative discernment."2 This happens best when leaders partner together with shared values. Belonging to the Assemblies of God as a credentialed minister provides unprecedented opportunities for leaders to develop their best. Here are three ways being credentialed can change your life.

The Transforming Power of Life-Giving Relationships

Did you know the Assemblies of God is part of a worldwide Movement that is 60 million strong? Being credentialed immediately positions the minister in a network of life-giving relationships with some of the most influential leaders in the world! It provides a context for dialogue, sharing struggles and successes, engaging in prayer partnerships, and o!ers a portal to access a body of servant leaders who cause you to stand taller because of the synergistic power of being connected. (Synergy is when the result is greater than the sum of the parts, when people work in concert to create an outcome of more value than the total individual input.)

At Conversations '08, the national credentialed women's conference in Phoenix, 324 women from 33 states experienced dynamic round table intergenerational dialogue, focusing on issues relevant to women fulfilling God's call (www. wim.ag.org). We worshipped, candidly shared innovative ideas, inspired creativity, a"rmed vision and birthed dreams. We exhorted each other to be the kind of woman who makes the devil tremble when her feet hit the floor in the morning—the kind of woman who makes Satan say, "Oh no, she's up!"

Maybe you didn't grow up in the church. Do you feel you are on the outside, alone, looking in? Have you explored if God is calling you to use your gifts in a ministry capacity? It is a new day and the complexion of ministry roles has changed dramatically. Women now recognize God's call to new, unique roles, pursuing a credential so they can join thousands from diverse backgrounds who experience the muscle of shared values, celebrating their distinct callings.

Bolster Your Opportunities

I am the coordinator of the Doctor of Ministry program at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri. Our office is the gateway through which leaders around the world experience a life-transforming, radically authentic education. I get to coach and support our participants as they respond to God's call to be shaped with advanced leadership skills. I love what I do more than words can say, astonished that I get to serve in such a strategic role. It has changed me forever. Serving as an ordained minister in our Fellowship placed me in the path of opportunity, providing credibility, history and a track record. I have noticed that women with bolstered credentials, including education and ministerial credentials, often experience heightened recognition, thus increasing their options.

Make a Difference

Our Fellowship is committed to strategically invest in the next generation, vigorously
plant new churches and skillfully resource our Fellowship. Our website (www.ag.org) features enormous resources and missional e!orts such as conferences, position papers, media resources, scholarly journals, universities, financial services and blogs. Read how we are the world leader in indigenous church planting, addressing everything from AIDS prevention in Africa to human tra"cking in India! We have the responsibility to participate fully in the life of this Movement by being a steward of and contributing to the formulation of resources and programs as well as holding officce.

As a presbyter in the Northwest Network I had the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the missional goals of our district. It's true—neither the Assemblies of God nor any other organization is perfect. However, I choose to celebrate its rich influence. Only when I perceive being part of this Fellowship in terms of what I can contribute rather than what I can receive will I experience its divine purpose and rich benefits. If you are interested in becoming a credentialed minister, please contact your district office.

1Bill Hybels, Courageous Leadership (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 12.
2Tod Bolsinger. www.bolsingerblog.com (accessed March 8, 2009).