Basic Certificate in Christian Ministry (BCCM)


The current curriculum that is used for Lay Ministerial Training was the fruit of a consultation held in February 2002. The consultation led to the design, development and production of study materials for total lay training in the church. This has been used till now and so far, for the purposes of what it had been crafted to achieve it had been excellent. Due to changing dynamics however, the levels of those we seek this training for has been changing just as the needs of the congregations the lay people serve in have also been changing. While the current materials targeted the barest minimum of being able to read and write and largely up to secondary levels, they also employ the use of Adult Literacy teaching and learning modes that suits the level of intake best.

Recent intakes however have indicated that more and more applicants, especially for the catechist programme do have undergraduate degrees already with several more having postgraduate degrees. Putting the spread of intake capacities together in class creates the challenge of having to transcend a very wide range to lead a class in a study. The challenges here are that whenever on the one hand, the facilitator targets the lowest end of those who could barely read and write and so uses a mother tongue, the challenge of some not being able to speak that general tongue shows up and so calls for the use of several vernaculars.  At the same time, whenever, the facilitator focuses on the lowest end, she tends to not just isolate those of the higher ends – undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, but also gives them the impression that it does not take much effort to go through the training in that, they are mostly idle.

On the other hand, whenever the facilitator focuses on the higher ends, she loses the lower ends completely because the discussions weigh too high for them and this is seen either in the questions they ask, or that they also tend to idle. Again the materials and their desire are such that when the higher ends are encouraged to do private study, it takes them less than 20% of the required time to finish a study. In fact, the mode of presentation of the material does lends itself to challenge entrants with the secondary level and below capacities but presents very little challenge to entrants with bachelor’s degrees or above. This a trainer would want to avoid so as not to create the impression that one does not need to exert any effort or just the least minimum effort to be trained as a catechist. The repercussions of such a state as it could be transferred into attitudes and perceptions of the role and function of the catechist is a danger one would want to avoid.

It is clear that catechists are at the forefront of nurturing congregations from their inception till they are developed enough or outgrown the capacities of a catechist so requires a minister. At this stage, the catechist becomes an assistant to the minster. In spite of the necessity to nurture a congregation at its formative stages well enough just as the foundation of future superstructure will require, the training of a catechist rather seems to be somewhat inferior as they are trained only to “assist the minister” though they are deployed to nurture congregations at their most critical formative stages.

The Purpose of this Curriculum

It must be stated however, that the general span of the materials, on the whole are very excellent and for their purposes and the target entrants in focus, they serve well. The current materials are therefore, highly recommended to be maintained for the general literacy levels up to the secondary levels. The need here will be a reclassification of the courses to modify the duration of the programme since that has become some cause for concern. The second need is a review of the content, classification of courses, presentation of the content materials as it dictates teaching and learning methodology, and duration per level and the total programme. These reviews are needed so as to keep the LMT programme relevant and effective, hence this proposal.

The proposal aims at targeting the reclassification to enhance duration, redesign, development and production of materials to suit the tertiary level teaching and learning. The proposed changes will be careful not to undermine the development of the person of trainees in all righteousness to grasp the basic formation required for the development of personal faith and character, for the transfer of competence in ministry skills towards a result-oriented ministry that would be fit for varying contexts and targets.

There is also the need to review the goals, content and mode of training a catechist so as to equip them for the carrying out of this critical assignment of properly nurturing a planted congregation on the necessary footing and standards till it is ready for a minster.

The GOAL of this curriculum

The curriculum targets the offering of ministry skills competence for the training of catechists in the Lay Ministerial Training (LMT) or rather Lay Ministerial Formation (LMF) category. It is proposed that the programme will be offered at two levels.

  1. The first is the secondary level intake of the barest minimum of literacy up to the secondary levels.
  2. The second is for tertiary level teaching and learning. Appropriate names could be sought and ascribed to indicate the review.

Each level shall have different sets of assessing requirements since the first level may become an entry requirement for accessing the second level.

It is also intended that a series of Continuing Education Certificate programmes would be prescribed for those who graduate with the first level after which, they would be required progress into the second level of training.

Those who graduate from the second level, shall also be put on a structured continuing education that brings them into the continuing education programmes for continued ministry skills enhancement.

The next goal is not just to enhance the capacity of the catechist. It is also done intentionally to provide depth and breadth of content that will lead to being able to nurture congregations to the necessary standards. This will place catechists on very sound footing at formation to ensure future growth and excellence. The catechist must be trained and perceived as not inferior to the ordained minister. It is a matter of function and role and not dignity.

The disclosed and undisclosed aspects of the curriculum will serve to enhance the self-worth and image of the catechist. All these seek to clarify the issues of function in relation to the ordained with the view to minimizing, if not eliminating, the conflicts that the mis-conceptualization of the role and place of the catechist has created so far.

Training (Teaching and Learning) Philosophy

As per the mandate given by the GAC for the development of ministry skills for church life and mission, RTC’s training is to initiate, enhance and transfer the focus and desire for continuous ministry skills formation for the execution of ministry tasks in all who access RTC’s programmes. The classification below is the specific standard required of RTC:

As per the mandate given by the GAC for the development of ministry skills for church life and mission, RTC’s training is to initiate, enhance and transfer the focus and desire for continuous ministry skills formation for the execution of ministry tasks in all who access RTC’s programmes. The classification below is the specific standard required of RTC:

1. RTC shall focus on four key areas of capacity building viz:

a) Spirituality and Leadership
b) Christian Education and Nurture
c) Missions and Evangelism
d) Pastoral Ministries

2. Each course taught within these areas shall cover the Biblical, Historical, Theological and General bases of the given course.

3. As a stated mandate, eighty per cent (80%) of all course contents, concepts transfer modes/modules and course assessment regimes are in the areas of Ministry Skills Formation mentioned in 1 above. The twenty percent (20%) covers areas of general cognitive formations as outlined in the trajectory.

4. Course assessments therefore, shall be more by course papers, project and project papers, and practical field work than by “sit-down written examination.” This would mean that where a course must be assessed by written examination, the question will intentionally test the application of principles aimed at the laying of foundation for skills development instead of a focus on the mere regurgitation of facts and theories only.

To this end, the Centre would be known for being a place with a focus on the practice of ministry.

Limitation of the Curriculum

This curriculum is designed to prepare trainees for the role of:

  1. Planting and nurturing Preaching Post towards attaining Congregational status
  2. Assisting ministers in leading and nurturing congregations.
  3. In the long run, and where the need arises, to be able to nurture a newly planted congregation until the congregation is capable of hosting a minister.
  4. The curriculum is limited to the training of Catechists.
Entry Requirement and Admission

By the design, whatever the entry qualification of a trainee, it is the other fundamental issues of faith, maturity and cohesion with church policy that would determine admission. Academic qualification shall serve to place a trainee in a category of programme delivery and not for admission to access RTC programmes.

With reference to admission, we wish to suggest the following as necessary for the streamlining of the training of Catechists in the PCG.

  1. That after the local perusal of a recommendation at the congregational level, Districts interview and accept entrants into the catechist training programme and the pass list with all the respective documents and interview documentations and justification recommendation for admission into training for consecration be sent to the designated institution – in our case the RTC.
  2. Letters of admission into to training as Catechist be issued from the central point – in our case RTC. The purpose of this suggestion is not to restrict admission but to streamline and centralize intake. This is also to afford the opportunity to plan the training process since, as it stands, presbyteries have the responsibility and jurisdiction to train entrants at the preceding levels except the Advanced Level.
  3. The admission letters so issued shall assign the location for the trainee at each level. The admission letter will also state the training schedule for each level.
  4. The assigned location for each level of training shall report on each session and on the progress of each trainee for the justification of progress towards completion.
  5. Deriving from this, the issuing authority shall have the responsibility to send reminder notices to each trainee for each stage of the training.

It is proposed that existing programme which targets all who have up to secondary level entry requirements will be awarded a Basic Certificate in Christian Ministry (BCCM) – Catechist Option.

For those with Diploma and above entry requirement who will be trained using this proposed course content, the offer will be Certificate in Christian Ministry (CCM) – Catechist Option

The certificate names suggested above are intended to ideate. After their perusal in course content and structure, approved nomenclature will have to be given.

Completion and Status of Limitation

Each level of the programme is intended to be completed over a 14-day period. This brings the total programme period to 42 days over a one-year period.