Why we use it

Ministry–whether at the vocational or lay-leader level–is a multifaceted calling. While the ability to teach, preach, and counsel provides the primary means through which the Word of God is communicated, it is the depth of theological knowledge that undergirds its proper application. Competency-Based Theological Education (CBTE), at its heart, seeks to successfully prepare students for this unique combination of theological proficiency and practical, ministerial care.

CBTE, like more traditional programs offered through Bible Colleges and Seminaries, is fully accredited. And like traditional programs, CBTE includes classes that look to build a student’s base of theological knowledge. However, this is where the similarities end. In CBTE, much of a student’s time is spent in the church working alongside other pastors and engaging in the real work of ministry. Assignments have a direct connection to a student’s work within the local church and, in addition, they are taught how to take their theological knowledge and communicate it effectively through their preaching and teaching. Through ongoing mentorship, involvement in the inner workings of ministry, and the numerous opportunities to develop and hone skills, CBTE provides an ideal environment in which students can become a fully equipped leader within the church.

What it is

Competency-Based Theological Education (CBTE) is an educational philosophy that draws on competency-based learning strategies delivered and applied in the context of local ministry settings. Mentored learning and mastery model assessment are hallmarks of this training paradigm. Outcomes define a full range of competencies in knowledge, skill, and character for effective ministry practice. In our case, the various ministries and programs that Northview Community Church offers provides the ministry environment for learning to occur. Students learn as they observe their ministry mentor lead and as they go through the process of preparing programs and leading groups themselves. CBTE is a way to gain theological knowledge and practical experience at the same time! One of the unique characteristics of CBTE is its ability to address the development of character alongside growth in knowledge and skill. This characteristic is captured in the language of “Head, Hands and Heart” used in the Certificate of Christian Foundations. This concept is also used in the Immerse program, utilizing the language of convictional knowledge, skillful competence and Christ-like character. These principles are outlined below and describe how we desire to engage students to master the outcomes presented to them.

CBTE has its own vocabulary to become acquainted with:

    • Mentor Team: each program will have either 2 or 3 mentors who play a role in providing feedback to help students meet the outcomes outlined in the curriculum.
      • MAP has a Mentor Team of 2: a Ministry Mentor and an Academic Mentor
      • Immerse has a Mentor Team of 3: a Ministry Mentor, an Academic Mentor, and a Network Mentor
    • MLO – Ministry Leadership Outcomes: Students are coached by their mentors toward ‘observed mastery’ in a variety of contexts by developing knowledge, character, and skill. An MLO is made up of multiple “ODAs”.
    • ODA – Outcome Development Assignment: Students complete a variety of assignments in order to show that they have mastered outcomes. These assignments include formats that would be found in any educational program including papers and projects, but also allow students the freedom to complete assignments that better fit their ministry context such as leading programs of their own and mentoring others.

The characteristics of “Head, Hands, and Heart” or “Convictional Knowledge, Christ-like Character, and Skillful Competence” are woven into each Ministry Leadership Outcomes (MLOs). These foundational elements form a triad that mirrors the educational process. Skills for ministry stem from character. Both character and skill require a basic foundation of knowledge. Always dependent upon God, a mind transformed with Truth (Rom. 12:2) fuels Christ-like character. That character overflows to skillful action, applied personally and in ministry application. For example, students need to know the biblical story-line as well as key biblical texts. Convictional knowledge (and understanding) of God, of His world, of others, and one’s self are vital for all MLOs. Similarly, Spirit-driven character exemplified by the fruit of the Spirit and a life that accords with sound doctrine provides the tenor for the entire program. The integrative competency to consistently develop and progressively demonstrate these elements in life and in ministry (including prayerfully speaking God’s word to others in a variety of ways) culminates in the themes being woven together.

LEAD is a clarifying acronym of the educational integration of this competency-based model:

L – Learn (about) (head / convictional knowledge)
E – Embrace (with heart) (heart / Christ-like character)
A – Apply (in life) (hands / skillful competence in general)
D – Disciple (others) (hands / skillful competence in leading others) -> Mastery Observed

CBTE at Northview

Northview’s CBTE programs are rooted in Scripture. Therefore, students will incorporate God’s Word as the central basis upon which they build. Students will master the appropriate tools for constructing structures to support effective life and ministry. By doing this it is expected that students will determine the passages of the Bible that are applicable to the given situation (MLOs/ODAs) and will evaluate everything (including other readings) through the lens of Scripture.

With the foundational elements in place, the MLOs can focus more distinctly on specific knowledge, character, and skill that are characteristic of effective pastoral ministry leaders. Moreover, ‘love’ unites this program and is viewed as multifaceted. It is a noun that is a characteristic and a verb that compels action. Since ‘God is love’ (love as a noun) and the universe is ultimately about Him and His Glory, God loves (love as verb) to work toward His own fame. He invites us to play our part as supporting (and secondary) cast.