Thinking about Accreditation?
Thinking about becoming an Accredited Person in Ministry with BCWA? Great!
If you’re here, you’re probably considering Accreditation.
But, what exactly does that mean? At BCWA, Accreditation is an act of dedication where a person is set for ongoing ministry centered on the Word of God, the care of people, and the equipping of God’s people for service. It’s a formal, public recognition that God has a called a person into pastoral ministry. It’s also a journey of discernment, guided by the Holy Spirit, seeking evidence that a person has been called, is of suitable character, and is competent.
Recognised nationally and internationally, Accreditation is administered by BCWA on behalf of, and in partnership with, local member churches. The process takes at least two years to complete. As such, you’re encouraged to apply for Accreditation as you complete theological studies, or within 12 months of commencing a formal ministry position.
What to expect
Before you apply, we encourage you to meet with your Pastor to discuss Accreditation and discern if this is right for you. You should also read the relevant policies and information, and ensure you are eligible. To enter the Accreditation Stream, you need to be:
- Baptised by immersion.
- An active member of a recognised Baptist Church for at least two years.
- In, or seeking, a formal ministry position with a BCWA church, agency, or ministry (this includes Baptistcare and Defence Force Chaplaincy).
- Completing, or have completed, theological study.
Register your interest with the Accreditation Team by meeting with the Head of Ministry Support & Standards. Together, you’ll discuss eligibility as well as the Accreditation process in more detail.
Then, submit your Application Forms, along with your Academics, Referees, and Safe Church Experience (if any). Once these have been processed, you’ll have an interview with the Accreditation Team.
Following your interview, you’ll be provided an Accreditation Pathway and Professional Development Plan (PDP). This looks a little different for everyone as it’s tailored to each applicant, but might include further studies, experience, supervision, psychological assessments, medical assessments, aptitude assessments, or another field determined by the Accreditation Team.
You’ll have to maintain a PDP log to record your activities and progress. You’ll also have a review every 12 – 18 months with a member of the Accreditation Team where you’ll discuss your PDP, experience, studies, and supervision.
All you have to do now is submit a Final Application to become eligible to be recognised by Assembly. After your submission, you’ll attend some panel interviews (held over one day) — if you’re married, your spouse is required to attend the interviews as well. Assuming all goes well, the Panel will provide a recommendation to Council for you to be recognised at Assembly.
You can — and some people do — but it makes the whole process a lot longer. Waiting until you’ve completed your studies may result in you needing to do further supervision or additional study, when you could have simply woven it into your studies at the start.
The purpose of supervision is to provide candidates with real-time feedback, guidance, and advice. You’ll be learning from seasoned professionals and have the opportunity to ask questions while you gain practical, life experience as you prepare for pastoral ministry. In the Accreditation journey, there are three types of supervision. Depending on your personalised Pathway, you may not need all three.
- Workplace Supervision: Occurs for day-to-day duties in a workplace context. You’ll be supervised by whoever you report to in your ministry context.
- Supervised Field Education (SFE): This takes place in your study program (if studying), if you’re completing the relevant units. The unit will run for one semester and the purpose of this supervision is goal-setting and reflection through group and individual supervision.
- External Supervision: This is a requirement for Accreditation and actually includes two sub-types of supervision — Tier 1: Professional or Clinical Supervision, and Tier 2: Pastoral Supervision. Tier 1 is provided by a professional, such as a Counsellor, Social Worker, or Psychologist. Tier 2 is provided by someone who has pastoral experience, or experience supervising Pastors.
As long as you’ve been a member of a BCWA church for at least two years, you can still apply without a placement. As a part of the application process, your church will provide a report on your activities within the church, including how your Pastor has observed your ministry, even if it’s in a volunteer capacity (e.g. on the Welcoming Team or as a Youth Leader).
Of course, Accreditation can’t be recognised until you have completed studies and gained two years of fulltime, supervised pastoral ministry in the Baptist context. As such, some applicants prefer to wait to apply until they have a definite placement. If you’re studying, check whether your study course fulfils the pre-requisite unit required for Accreditation.
Yes, you should still apply — ideally within 12 months of your ministry appointment or in the second year of your studies (whichever is soonest). If already working, your Accreditation Pathway will be developed in cooperation with your church. If studying, your study course will be taken into account.
If you’re ministering within a Baptist organisation — such as Baptistcare, Baptist Mission Australia, Baptist World Aid, etc. — but not a member of a Baptist church affiliated with BCWA, you may be granted an Interim Accreditation.
As an example, this means that, if you work at Baptistcare but attend your local Uniting Church, you may still be Accredited.
It depends on the BCWA relationship with that organisation. For example, whether Accreditation or Ordination is a pre-requisite for the position, and whether you are a Baptist Representative within the organisation. For example, this would be suitable for a Chaplain within the Defense Force, Police Force, or Hospital, but wouldn’t extend to you if you were a Pastor of a church unaffiliated with BCWA. If you’re not sure, it’s best to contact us so we can take a closer look at your circumstances.
Full Accreditation can’t be granted until the two years at a member church is complete. However, as the Accreditation process often takes two years itself, you should apply as soon as your ministerial position has been appointed (as long as you’ve completed or are completing theological study). By the time the Accreditation Process has finished, it’s likely your two years at a member church will have as well.
This is quite a common scenario, some of our now-Accredited Pastors initially completed their studies 20, 30, even 40 years ago! Just like they did, you should apply for Accreditation as soon as possible. A review of your qualification, experiences, references, supervision arrangement and professional development will all be considered for your personalised Accreditation Pathway. In most cases, you’ll move through the Accreditation Process much faster.
No — you’ll need to have, or be commencing, some form of theological training in order to be eligible for Accreditation. But remember, every Accreditation Pathway is unique. Even if your past studies aren’t theological, they’ll still be considered in your personalised Pathway.
Yes, you’re still eligible, and may even be eligible for Provisional Accreditation. You can include Denominational Distinctives in your Professional Development Plan and need to provide academic transcripts, references, and a statement of your pastoral experience.
It’s important to note that “Accreditation” means different things in different States and Denominations, so there may not be as much overlap as you’re hoping. As these circumstances vary from person-to-person, yours will be discussed with you in detail during the Accreditation Process.
Please download and read through our three information packs.
They contain crucial, detailed information on the Accreditation process and go deeper into what you can expect. We encourage you to go through these with your Pastor as a first step to Accreditation.