Certification in Ministry
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Sarah Hennagin Evans, ’08
“The Certification in Ministry Program was the best thing I did at Whitworth. The courses trained me in practical skills, and helped me formulate my own thoughts about the intersection of theology and action.  The professors challenged us to create lifelong habits of scriptural study, simple living, and sacrificial service. I cannot imagine a college program that could have prepared me more completely for the work I’m currently doing.”

Tyler Alsin, ’11
“The skills and knowledge I acquired in the Certification in Ministry program are irreplaceable. Through memorizing Scripture, reading extremely practical books, and learning from the wisdom and experience of incredibly qualified professors, students are challenged to discover what it means to be faithful to God in all aspects of life.”

David Bonnema ’08
I am the director of youth ministry at a Presbyterian church in Tampa, Florida. In this position I oversee all programming for middle- and high-school students. The main areas of our programming include Sunday School, youth group, small groups, summer mission trips, and youth conferences. I can say without a doubt that the Whitworth Certificate in Ministry Program prepared me for almost everything I have faced in my first four years of full-time ministry.

Anyone who has worked in youth ministry before can attest to its unpredictability. The Certificate in Ministry Program does a fantastic job of addressing this by providing classes that speak to the many different aspects of ministry. From the practical parts of ministry, like budgeting and administration, to the deeper theological questions of why ministry is done: All of this, and more, is covered! The classes did more than just prepare me for what I would encounter in full-time ministry; they also gave me expertise in specific areas, such as small-group and urban ministry. The classes were taught by professors as well as by local pastors who had first-hand knowledge of ministry.  I continue to draw from their insight and knowledge today.

One of the program’s high points is the required internship. The internship gave me a first-hand look at what working in a church would be like. The mentor I worked with is someone I can still go to today for ministry advice, and the class that I took alongside the internship experience allowed me to digest and think through how I was doing ministry.

Finally, one of my favorite aspects of this program is how it addresses the spiritual and emotional components of a person. For a variety of reasons, becoming burned out is a huge problem among youth directors. This program emphasizes how to stay healthy in ministry while continuing to grow spiritually and emotionally.

To any student considering ministry upon graduation from college, I can say that the Whitworth Certificate in Ministry Program is absolutely essential. I really believe that this sort of program should be required for all students interested in ministry. No other program will help prepare students for ministry as well as this one. If you still have questions about the Certificate in Ministry Program feel free to contact me at davidnbonnema@gmail.com.

Amber Slate, ’09

I am currently the middle- high-school youth director at Sammamish Presbyterian Church, in the Seattle area. My primary responsibilities include initiating relationships with, and presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ to, youth and their families, coordinating and encouraging volunteers, as well as planning and executing ministry programs. I was initially hired by SPC as a youth intern. As I began to grow in leadership and experience, it was clear that my training through the Whitworth Certification in Ministry Program had prepared me to thrive in ministry. This educational background eventually led to the full-time, permanent position on staff that I have now.
Some aspects of the training through certification in ministry that I have found valuable:

  1. Holistic approach: I often joke with my co-workers about how surprised we are at the items that find their way into our job descriptions. One day I’m playing dodgeball with students, and the next I’m balancing the budget and installing AV equipment. I am so thankful that the Certification in Ministry Program addressed the variety of skills I would need to be prepared and intentional in ministry. These skills include administration, keeping a dynamic faith, forming healthy boundaries, self-evaluation and reflection, leading small groups, etc.
  2. Perspective and meaning: There is no doubt that some seasons in ministry can be wonderful and others can be really hard. Personally, my third year working in ministry has been the toughest of all. While I’ve finally developed enough trust with students to hear about their deep struggles and pain, I have encountered others in the church who are frustrating to work with, and I have frustrated others also. In all this, it has been essential for me to keep my eyes on Christ and to remember what ministry is truly about. Because the Certification in Ministry Program deeply imbedded the person and call of Jesus Christ into my philosophy of ministry, I am able to keep my perspective and tap into a deeper commitment in all circumstances.
  3. Mentorship and fellowship: I loved the opportunity that this program provided for deep, formative thinking in the context of great relationships. The professors were eager to share their wisdom and to listen as I processed what I was learning. The fellowship of other students provided a context in which I could explore my own strengths, weaknesses, passion, and calling. Some of my favorite classes and relationships at Whitworth have come from my time in this program.

If you are interested in ministry, there is no better place to start than the Whitworth Certification in Ministry Program!