Core Qualities


   Core Qualities            Called to Ministry?           Formal Education          Internship          Continuing Education 

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The mission of the Ministerial department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America is to empower the ministerial community in leading churches to reach their world for Christ with hope & wholeness. Pastors who are the most effective in this mission are proficient in identifiable core qualities of ministry.  These qualities serve as benchmarks for professional growth from the initial call, through undergraduate and Master of Divinity education, internship and continuing education. 

Core Qualities of the Pastor There are two days in a congregation where pastors can make everyone happy. For some, it is the day we arrive, for others it is the day we leave.

The Pastor of Our Dreams

How to Know if You're Called


   Core Qualities            Called to Ministry?           Formal Education          Internship          Continuing Education  


Have you ever wondered if you may be called to serve as a full time professional pastor? If so, how would you know? And how do you distinguish the call to full time professional ministry from other equally important callings?
God calls everyone to ministry. When you become a believer, you are called into ministry. Peter writes “10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms (1 Peter 4:10).
Paul, in his letter to the church in Corinth, gives an extensive listing of the spiritual gifts. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).
All are called to serve in ministry, yet each calling is unique. Some of the spiritual gifts are given to individuals who serve the servants. These are the ‘equippers’ in the body of Christ. To the church in Ephesus Paul writes “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11).
In the Adventist denomination volunteers many times can fulfill the role of ‘equipper’. However, because of the depth of knowledge and experience needed for this role, many conferences find that a full time professional pastor can excel in this role. This unique role is not so much to be doing the tasks of the church, but rather equipping and enabling others to discover and live out their gifted roles in ministry. This is not a superior role but rather a supporting role, facilitating the entire discipleship process within the congregation.
For many years the job openings for full time pastoral ministry have been less than the number of students interested in the positions. Yet that may all be changing soon. The Adventist Church in North America is about to experience an increased need of pastors because 50% of the current pastors will be eligible for retirement in the next few years. Schools will need to double the number of graduates and conferences will need to double the number of hires in order to mitigate the anticipated loss.
Could that be a role that you are called to take on? If so, how would you know? Here are four suggested indicators that could validate your calling to full time professional ministry:
a.       Inner sense of calling from God
b.       Confirmation from others
c.       Professional Education
d.       Offer of employment from a conference
The journey to full time professional ministry takes at least ten years. This includes four years for an undergraduate degree in pastoral studies, three years for the Master of Divinity degree, and about four years of internship leading up to commissioning/ordination. This is a major time commitment. You may wish to have a strong validation of your calling as you journey down that path. Let me break that out into a suggested sequence of steps to ministry. Take the time to work through each step before moving on to the next one. If you move too quickly down the pathway without validation, you might find yourself someday with a Master of Divinity diploma hanging on your wall and a realization that your calling may to something other than full time pastoral ministry.   Here are some suggested sequential steps for validation:
1)       Pray for wisdom from God to lead and give you direction. A calling to serve eventually as a full time professional pastor must be generated in heaven. As you pray, study, meditate, and engage in your spiritual disciplines, ask God if He has wired you for this unique role. Listen to His voice, and watch for His leading in your life.
2)       Study the role of the pastor. It is difficult to know if you are called to professional ministry without understanding what exactly a pastor does on a day by day basis. One of the best ways to do this is to seek out a pastor and if you could shadow him or her for an extensive period of time. In your shadowing, be sure to get a complete picture by spending time in all aspects of ministry. Then reflect on the day to day work of the pastor. Is this something that gets your juices flowing? Or does your mind start to wander as you shadow the pastor.
3)       Volunteer in your local church. Find an area of ministry where your passion and spiritual gifts align with the needs of the community and let God work through You. Look especially for those opportunities to equip others, since this is the core gift of the pastor.
4)       Help lead out in a small group. In fact, if you find success in leading a small group it may be a predictor of your potential as a full time pastor. The gifts needed for a small group leader are essentially the same gifts needed to pastor.
5)       Seek out the advice of several godly individuals who know you well. Ask them to take the time to fill out a survey that helps compare your profile to that of pastors who excel. Ask them straight up ‘can you visualize me serving as a full time pastor some day?’ Listen carefully for the things that they see as natural for you as well as parts of the role of the pastor that they may see as difficult for you.
6)       Take a personality inventory such as the PXT to discover if your personality is within the norms of those who are most likely to excel in ministry. If you are far outside the norm it may be that you are wired for a different calling.
7)       Pursue professional education starting with an undergraduate degree in Theology.
8)       Continually use your spiritual gifts in a congregation as you are enrolled in formal education. Look for ways to integrate your coursework with practical experience in a congregation.
9)       Make your availability known to conference leadership. You will most likely be hired by a conference leader who already knows you.  Don’t wait until graduation to get to know conference leadership. Let them know where you are in your journey and what pastoral experiences you are currently engaged in.
I’ve been in full time professional ministry since 1978. Although the journey has meandered a lot of different directions I would not trade my ministry experience for any other career. I continue to be amazed as I get a front row seat watching God work his miracles in the lives of his people. As I write this final paragraph be assured that I am praying for you, that God will reveal His calling to you, whether it be a calling to serve as a volunteer in ministry or a full time professional pastor.


Formal Education



                     Core Qualities            Called to Ministry?          Formal Education          Internship          Continuing Education         


The mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church can only find its fulfillment through the ministries practiced by local congregations. It is in these congregations that people hear and then proclaim the everlasting gospel of redemption found in Jesus Christ. It is here that members who are nurtured as disciples, look forward to our Savior’s soon return. This is God’s church and its members are God’s people--gifted for the purpose of doing ministry.
Among God’s people are those called specifically to pastoral ministry. Their response and commitment to ministry are encouraged and guided by the church. Included with their calling is an education process providing basic training necessary to meet the professional expectations for ministry. The church shall help them affirm their call as well as provide resources for the development of professional skills needed to perform ministry.

Preparing for serving as a professional pastor in the North American Division takes about ten years.  Candidates should plan on taking an undergraduate bachelor of arts in religion or theology, a Master of Divinity Degree, followed by an internship in a church setting leading up to ordination/commissioning. A lifetime of learning follows through continuing education.

Undergrad Options

Masters Options






                     Core Qualities            Called to Ministry?          Formal Education          Internship          Continuing Education  


With about half of Adventist clergy eligible for retirement within the next few years, the mentoring of new pastors through the internship program becomes increasingly important. A growing number of beginning pastors will need to connect with seasoned pastors who have mentoring expertise.

To raise the level of expertise in internship programs a representative group of conference ministerial directors gathered on June 7, 2017, at Walla Walla University, and shared their best practices of internship. Below are some of the ideas that were gleaned from this gathering that could serve to start building a standard template that other conferences could draw from. 

Time Period

The Ministerial Internship describes the time of employment in pastoral ministry between seminary and ordination/commissioning. It could also include the time spent employed in pastoral ministry between college and seminary. Internship is normally completed with ordination/commissioning after about five service credit years. The completion of MDiv qualifies as one year service credit.

The Intern

The intern should have a strong desire to learn, be a self-starter and willing to spend at least ten hours a week focused on learning activities. In addition, the intern will also be given ministry assignments that may not directly contribute to learning activities. 

The Mentor

The Mentor assists the intern in building up skill sets and experiences in preparation for ordination/commissioning. The mentor and the intern work together to identify and engage in ministry activities that will build up the portfolio of evidence of proficiencies as defined by the Core Qualities. It is ultimately the responsibility of the intern to manage the development of the portfolio.  If there are not enough learning activities to cover all the Core Qualities in the district, the mentor may work with the intern on occasional activities outside of the district. At least ten hours a week should be devoted to skill development. During an internship, the intern may be served by several mentors, some at the same time.

The Supervisor

While the intern is developing the skills for ministry, there is also an expectation that the intern is productive in ministry. The supervisor oversees the intern’s performance of ministry tasks in the church district. The role of the supervisor and the mentor are different. These two roles may or may not reside in the same person. The supervisor’s authority is positional and the intern is accountable to the supervisor. The supervisor is supportive of the intern devoting about ten hours a week in learning activities that may not necessarily contribute directly to the pastoral needs of the district.

The Congregation

Interns ideally are placed in a healthy congregation/district where members are patient, tolerant, supportive, and affirming. Members should have the ability to teach and acknowledge the authority of the intern supervisor. They are willing to invest in the future of the denomination knowing that the pastor is still in development and may not yet be as productive as a seasoned pastor.

The Core Qualities ‘Check off List’ for ordination/commissioning

The goal of the internship is for the intern to develop the skills/attributes of ministry as outlined in the Core Qualities. Each of the seven core qualities has several descriptors that serve as a definition. Each of the descriptors have an Intern Learning Outcome that serve as the ‘check off list’ for each attribute of ministry. An Intern Learning Outcome consists of an attribute (what is the skill), context (where the ministry will take place), criteria (the quality at which the task is performed).

The Learning Cycle

1)    The Intern and the Mentor first select an Intern Learning Outcome and then create learning activities where the intern can develop the skill set.

2)    The mentor either demonstrates the core skill or directs the intern to someone else who can demonstrate the core skill. The intern observes and then the intern and the mentor discuss what they saw.

3)    With the support of the mentor, the intern practices the core skill set. The mentor observes and then the mentor and intern discuss what they saw and did.

4)    The intern continues to practice the core skill set on his/her own until the mentor can show evidence that the intern has performed the task at the level of quality called for by the Intern Learning Outcomes. The intern and mentor post the evidence into the intern’s portfolio. Evidence could consist of documents, videos, or a description by the mentor of the achieved performance by the intern.

The Weekly Meeting

Ideally the mentor and the intern meet for at least an hour every week. During that time, they will review the previous week’s learning activities. What went well? What could be done better? What might be tried next time? Or is it ready to post to the portfolio? Next, the intern and mentor create the next learning activities, and the learning cycle continues.

Readiness for Ordination/Commissioning

1)      When an intern has reached the proficiency standards for ordination as outlined in in the Core Qualities of Ministry, the local conference administration will arrange for a preliminary interview with the prospective candidate and his/her ministry. In the interview, the candidate will provide evidence of readiness for ordination/commissioning through the ministry portfolio. If the conference ordination/commission committee is persuaded that the intern has provided sufficient evidence for readiness for ministry, the committee will recommend the name of the candidate to the local conference executive committee.  

2)      If approved, the conference executive committee will recommend the candidate and supply evidence for readiness for ordination/commissioning as outlined in the Core Qualities to the union committee.

3)      The union committee will evaluate the candidate by the Core Quality evidence supplied by the conference. If the evidence is sufficient, the union committee will approve of the ordination/commissioning.

4)      The conference will schedule and perform the ordination/commissioning service.





Continuing Education


Core Qualities          Called to Ministry?          Formal Education          Internship          Continuing Education     


L 70 Field Nurture of Pastors                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       (Continuing Education for Ministry)

L 70 05 Background—Excellence in ministry requires that ministers continually hone the skills needed to perform their profession. It involves commitment to a lifelong process of learning. This is accomplished by a consistent continuing education plan, which will allow pastors to enhance their ministry skills.  It is the responsibility of professional pastors to continually update their expertise that they might serve their constituents better. 

Recognizing that continuing education for clergy is a lifelong process, this section of the North American Division Working Policy, encourages ministers to pursue a program of continuing education so they may grow in their proficiency of Core Qualities for Effective Ministry including, character, evangelism, worship, leadership, scholarship, management, and relationship. 

Continuing education for ministry in the North American Division operates in harmony with General Conference Continuing Education World Guidelines.

L 70 10 Objectives—Continuing education is a specific planned program of study beyond basic formal education. 

1. It is not designed to replace the formal training (MDiv) of the Seventh-day Adventist ministry as described by the Working Policy of the North American Division.

2. Continuing education is intended to serve all licensed and credentialed ministers.

3. The Seventh-day Adventist church expects a minimum of two earned continuing education units (CEUs) annually for professional pastors that would benefit their development as ministers. A continuing education unit is defined as ten hours of participation in a recognized continuing education program, with qualified instruction and sponsorship. 

4. NAD Ministerial Continuing Education Committee provides continuing education guidelines.

5. Ministers report their CEUs on the Certification platform that is housed on the Adventist Learning Community.

6. A minister should make every effort to have a balanced continuing education program that would reflect the academic, practical, and spiritual aspects of ministry. 

7. Professional development is identified as learning directly relevant to the ministerial profession to maintain and enhance ministerial effectiveness. Professional learning takes many forms but is not limited to the following: attending seminars, taking courses in person or online such as those found on Adventist Learning Community, reading journals and academic books, writing presentations or professional courses. It also includes assessment, evaluation, and the reporting and tracking of the learning activity. Professional development learning activities do not include the anticipated and predictable responsibilities of the ministry profession.