EFM – Education for Ministry – so what exactly is it?

It is a program of Theological Education by Extension.

Every baptized person is called to ministry – to be active participants in the church’s total ministry – to be disciples.

The belief is that every baptized person is called to ministry – to be active participants in the church’s total ministry – to be disciples. The Education for Ministry (EFM) program provides people with an opportunity to discover how to respond to the call to Christian service and to deploy their ministries in their own time and place. EFM can play an important part in the development of informed and knowledgeable lay leaders for our church. The EFM program does not evaluate nor recommend individuals for ordination. It does encourage individuals to be intentional about their ministries in the church and it can be a useful step in discernment.

The course materials provide substantial academic content on the Bible: the Old Testament in year one and New Testament in year two, history and tradition in year three and theology in year four.

The seminar group, consisting of six to twelve participants and a trained mentor is the nucleus of the Education for Ministry program. They meet weekly over the course of nine months – for four years if people do the whole program, although it is not necessary to do four consecutive years. If life’s demands require you to take a year or two off, you are able to pick up where you left off. Participants are responsible for setting their own personal learning goals within the context of shared experiences.

Participants are responsible for setting their own personal learning goals within the context of shared experiences.

Seminar groups work under the leadership of mentors who serve as guides. Mentors are NOT teachers who are expected to impart information; rather they enable the individuals in the group to share and move forward. Mentors can be lay or ordained. We currently have three groups in the diocese with 32 members. Two groups in the diocese are mentored by lay people and another by a parish priest. Mentors receive regular training every 12 months. The next mentor training in Rupert’s Land is scheduled for the spring of 2014.

The course materials provide substantial academic content on the Bible: the Old Testament in year one and New Testament in year two, history and tradition in year three and theology in year four.

Barbara, a year two student, says: “The readings and oral discussions of the readings as well as the theological reflections are most enriching for me. My knowledge has greatly expanded on the Bible.”

It is very effective for a group to consist of students in each year sharing what they have experienced. Overlapping themes often become visible as the different years share and reflect.

The goal is to learn to think theologically – “where is God in this circumstance?”

The focus of the program is on life as disciples and understanding one’s ministry. EFM provides Christians with that basic skill which is the foundation of all Christian ministry – theological reflection. In doing this, participants sharpen their skills of personal and cultural assessment, and enhance their abilities to be effective in a variety of ministries. The goal is to learn to think theologically – “where is God in this circumstance?” EFM students examine their own beliefs, articulate those beliefs and their relationship to our culture and the tradition of our Christian faith. They learn what it means to be effective disciples in the world. In coming to terms with the notion that everything we do has potential for manifesting the love of Christ, we discover that our ministry is at hand wherever we turn.

In addition to theological reflection and study, the seminar is supported by a life of prayer and regular worship.

Susan, who is mentoring one of the Rupert’s Land groups, says that “EFM deepened my faith, gave me a vocabulary to explain my faith, gave me knowledge of all the components, and joy.” In addition to theological reflection and study, the seminar is supported by a life of prayer and regular worship.

“I would definitely recommend the EFM study course to anyone interested in studying the Bible, learning anything about the history of the church and growing new and caring relationships.”

The program is suitable for all types of learners: intellectual and applied, young and keen, old and wise and for all lifestyles. Alison, who will graduate from the program in June, said: “I would definitely recommend the EFM study course to anyone interested in studying the Bible, learning anything about the history of the church and growing new and caring relationships.”

By Cathy Mondor

For more information on the Education for Ministry Program contact Cathy Mondor by phone at 204-992-4200 or by email or visit the EFM website www.efmcanada.ca