Ministry Training Basics for Pastors & Church Leaders

Date Published

December 10, 2022

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Published by Calvin Seminary

Biblical, theological, and vocational training can help people in all types of ministry. If you are looking to begin a ministry role for the first time, or if you are looking to take the next step in your current ministry role, it’s important to find the right place to receive your training.

Basics of Ministry Training

Trusted and effective ministry training includes these key areas:

Biblical Literacy

Knowing the Bible is foundational to Christian ministry. Calvin Theological Seminary approaches God’s Word with reverence and teaches students how to read Scripture.

Theological Understanding

Theology undergirds our ministry and affects how we put it into action. Calvin Theological Seminary offers a strong theological foundation for ministry training.

Pastoral Care

Ministry leaders have the privilege of being able to shepherd people through joys and struggles. Calvin Theological Seminary offers extensive training in how to care for others in the midst of milestones, grief, transitions, and more.


No matter your title or role, as someone in ministry, you are called to leadership and service. Calvin Theological Seminary nurtures your gifts and helps you to grow as a servant-leader.

Contextual Learning

Ministry training should provide an internship or ministry placement that allows you to be mentored and gain experience in your area of ministry. Calvin Theological Seminary offers opportunities to practice contextual learning, putting your ministry skills into action even before you graduate.

Ministry Training for Pastors

Many pastors elect to receive formal educational training, although some denominations do not require graduate-level degrees for ordination.

Pursuing a Ministry Degree

Calvin offers many degrees and programs to equip pastors for ministry, including:

  • Master of Divinity (MDiv): Future pastors and other leaders will receive a foundational education in the Bible, theology, and ministry through this premier program.
  • Doctor of Ministry (DMin): Mid-level pastors and other ministry leaders can grow in community with peers through this distance hybrid doctoral program.
  • Master of Arts in Christian Leadership: Leaders of faith in all vocational fields can benefit from this customizable master’s degree.

Taking Online Ministry Courses

If you are a pastor seeking professional and spiritual development without pursuing an additional degree, consider taking individual ministry courses — online or in person.

Enhancing Preaching Abilities

Teaching pastors benefit from receiving training specifically focused on preaching. Calvin Theological Seminary has coursework related to preaching as well as the world-class Center for Excellence in Preaching, offering resources for pastors-in-training.

Preparing for Ordination

The Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree at Calvin Theological Seminary is a natural path to ordination in the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA), providing rich theological, biblical, and experiential coursework to prepare pastors.

Those who hold an MDiv degree from another seminary and are pursuing ordination in the CRCNA can receive training explicitly for that purpose through Calvin’s Ecclesiastical Program for Ministerial Candidacy (EPMC) program. EPMC students receive an orientation to the theology, history, and ministry of the Christian Reformed Church.

Lay Ministry Training

Lay ministry training can be useful for anyone who does not wish to be a pastor but who desires ministry and Christian service to be a part of their everyday life.

Getting a Certificate in Ministry

Ministry certificates offer continuing education opportunities for people who may desire more flexibility in their learning and are not looking for a long-term degree program. Calvin Seminary offers several concentrations within our certificate in Christian Leadership program:

  • Concentration in Education, Youth, and Family: Prepare for effective ministry in schools, youth leadership, and/or family ministry. Catch a larger vision for your organizational role and be prepared in practical ways to follow your calling. This certificate is ideal for people serving in roles such as teachers, principals, youth leaders, and family ministry directors.
  • Concentration in Missional Leadership: Expand your missional perspective by learning through this concentration. You will receive practical and theological training, helping you to deeply understand and convey the truths of Christianity and the power of the gospel. This concentration is perfect for missionaries, organizational leaders, and ministry directors.
  • Concentration in Pastoral Care: Deepen your capacity for pastoral care by learning how to connect with people through life’s most significant moments. Learn to shepherd your congregation well through the highs and the lows, pointing them to God’s constant and comforting presence. This concentration is useful for pastors, campus ministers, chaplains, and church elders.
  • Concentration in Pastoral Leadership: Grow in your leadership skills to best shepherd those in your care. Whether you lead a church, ministry, Christian school, or nonprofit, you will benefit from the foundational and practical training this concentration offers. Consider this concentration if you are a pastor, principal, director, or other ministry leader.
  • Concentration in Worship: Invite others into authentic worship. Through this concentration, you will learn how to gather worshiping communities in meaningful ways to praise God. Consider this concentration if you are a worship leader, elder, or pastor.
  • Concentration in Bible Instruction: Be equipped for Bible teaching in a Christian school or church setting. This concentration gives you the tools and training you need to help others develop a love of Scripture, at all ages and stages of life. This concentration is helpful for K–12 Bible teachers, Sunday school instructors, Vacation Bible School leaders, and other roles that involve teaching God’s Word.

Taking Self-Guided Online Classes

Lay leaders looking to know the basics of Christianity and the Bible can benefit from taking self-guided online classes, such as the lifelong learning courses that Calvin offers. These courses serve as stand-alone personal development opportunities and do not provide credits toward a degree.

Auditing a Ministry Class

Lay leaders do not need to attend Calvin to gain knowledge from our world-class credited offerings. Consider auditing a course such as Principles and Methods for Effective Bible Teaching or ‘Building Resilience for Sustainable Ministry to enhance your preparation for lay ministry.

Learn More About Ministry Training from CTS

Our Calvin Seminary admissions team would love to connect with you and hear about your goals in ministry. Request more information below and we will reach out shortly!


Visit Calvin Theological Seminary’s Campus

We can’t wait to host you on campus! Schedule your visit today, or, if you need more time to find a date that works for you, please request information so we can continue the conversation about supporting your calling!