In an effort to remove the financial and geographical barriers of continuing education opportunities, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Campbell University Divinity School have partnered to provide a preschool and children ministry certification course in Atlanta, Georgia. The preschool and children ministry certification is also offered through Campbell University at Thomasville, N.C.
After years of serving as a layperson in Children's Ministry at Calvary Baptist Church in Asheville, N.C., Elmer Perry became full-time Children's Ministry Coordinator in April 2005. He completed the Preschool and Children Certification and is currently working on his degree in Early Childhood Education.
Before becoming the Children's Ministry Coordinator, Elmer volunteered for several years at Calvary as a children's Sunday School teacher, Children's Worship leader, puppet team leader, and Royal Ambassadors leader.
Elmer admits keeping up with the work for the certification program while doing full-time ministry proved challenging. But he emphasizes, "the knowledge gained is invaluable to the work you will do in ministry." The certification gave him a better knowledge of how children learn and develop and how to evaluate curriculum, Elmer says.
Kristen Muse was serving as a part-time Children's Minister when she decided to pursue a master's degree with a preschool and children's ministry certification.
Even though Kristen had a background in elementary education and applied that knowledge to the church, she felt that she needed more to provide a better foundation for the preschoolers, children, and their families that she served.
"As I learned about the preschool and children's ministry certification, I knew that God was calling me to gain the biblical, theological, developmental, practical knowledge and skills that would make my ministry more effective," Kristen says.
Kristen now serves as Minister with Children at Hayes Barton Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C. She earned a Master of Divinity from Campbell University, with a preschool and children ministry certification. Kristen also serves as Regional Specialist at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. In this role, she trains workers in the areas of preschool and children.
The practical knowledge that she has been able to apply directly to her ministry has been the certification's greatest reward, Kristen says. "It's important to have a theological understanding that guides your ministry and the certification helps you develop that as well as think about more practical issues like safety and security," she explains.
Kristen mentions another benefit to her theological education. "The opportunity to meet others and begin networks that will last throughout your ministry is a reward that also comes with the certification," she says. "You have people to call who are experiencing some of the same struggles and joys that you are."
For those considering certification, Kristen has this advice: "If you're serving in a church and haven't had a theological and biblical background that directly relates to ministry with preschoolers and children, you need to do this. It will enhance your ministry and your effectiveness as a minister. It's not just for children's ministers, but pastors and education ministers that will relate to preschoolers, children, and their families. The principles you will learn are timeless and will enhance your ministry for years to come."
The preschool and children ministry certification in Atlanta and Thomasville features short-term intensive courses where students gather twice a semester for three days. Classes within the certification program focus on teaching students not only how to teach, but also why they teach, what to teach, and when to teach it. Learn more at http://www.thefellowship.info/certification. Cost per credit hour: $340. The registration deadline is Aug 1.
For more information about the courses offered in Atlanta and to fill out an online application, please visit http://www.thefellowship.info/certification or contact Jana Kinnersley at (706) 224-3779 or Janice Haywood at (919) 467-4871. For more information about the courses offered in North Carolina, please contact Kelly Jones at Campbell Divinity School at (910) 893-1865 or Janice Haywood at (919) 467-4871.