Pastoral Leadership in Understanding the Setting of Ministry
Matthew records the words of our Lord, Jesus, in the final chapter of his book, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” (NASB, 2000. Mat 28:19-20. pp. 1612). This is referred to as “The Great Commission.” However, it was not the first time Jesus asserted this command to His disciples. The whole of Christ’s ministry taught this. It was Christ’s strategy in preparing the world for His eventual return.
This was a commandment Henry Reyenga, Rich DeVos, and Ron Parr, acted on when the established Christian Leaders, NFP. on the 20th of September of a year that will indeed live on in the memories of the entire world. The year was 2001. As the World Trade Center building (and others) lay in ashes engulfed with smoke, pastor Henry Reyenga found himself on a mission trip in Manhattan.
It was the fallout from this catastrophic and tragic event that Henry Reyenga felt the nudging of God upon his shoulders, and brought him to take up a challenge given him by his mentor, the great Rich DeVos, of Amway fame. DeVos, back in the late 90s, had mentored young Henry, calling him to equip and encourage “bi-vocational” ministry leaders to spread the gospel.
From this calling, emerged Christian Leaders Institute and Christian Leaders College. This ministry is characterized by its support and edification of Traditional Reformed Christianity. It promotes and provides to its students a nondenominational, biblical worldview.
In 2018, Pastor Reyenga, in a special YouTube video said, “our passion is your success…and fight the good fight,” (Reyenga, 2018). Ηe had made this comment in reference to all the students of the Christian Leaders Institute (CLI) and College. This is just a quick sample of the culture that CLI builds and uplifts to students around the world.
People from all walks of life and experience, with roughly 66% coming from the United States and roughly 34% from elsewhere around the globe, come to CLI to study the bible and ministry. Participation by age and gender also is diverse with male students accounting for approximately 60% of the students, and women accounting for an estimated 40% of students, (2021 Sample, Facebook Group Analytics). Although numbers in samples exist, I can only say that the age groups of the students are even more widely diverse with the age group of 25-34 year olds accounting for about 24% of the students, (2021 Sample, Facebook Group Analytics).
It is somewhat difficult to prioritize the needs of students as a whole, I have observed and learned some of the various needs of our students. Speaking to the cultural and physical needs of the students, I am somewhat astonished at the determination shown by students who are not always even able to eat a meal. Many of our students earn in a year what most Americans make in a few weeks. Yet one does not miss the energy, excitement, and zeal they bring to studying.
Here at Christian Leaders Institute, while always encouraged and assisted in finding ministry in or close to their own communities, these same students find people, staff, and volunteers that care and take a personal interest and time, to whatever extent they can, to meet their spiritual needs.
Visiting their Homepage on the internet, one will Find in its Mission Impact Statement, CLI writes, “Since 2001 Christian Leaders Institute has reached over 375,000 enrolled students around the globe,” (2021, CLI). At present, it is my understanding the number may now have
exceeded 400,000 and come from over 180 countries. There indeed is a reason why Christian Leaders Institute attracts so many students from around the world, and it is not just a financial reason. One graduate of CLI writes, “I believe in Christian Leaders Institute for many reasons. I have attended Moody Bible College and I was surprised to find the curriculum at CLI to be just as challenging if not more so…” (Dobson, 2021).
Christian Leaders Ministries, which includes the institute and college, go far beyond in exemplifying Paul’s exhortation in 1 Thessalonians when he writes, “…encourage one another and build up one another…” (NASB, 2000. 1 Thes 5:110. pp. 1938).
Christian Leaders Institute reaches out to the world everyday, 24/7, and provides quality biblical and ministry education without burying its students in debt. I don’t believe there are many educational Institutes that can say that. Students here at home in the U.S. as well as around the world see Christian Leaders Institute and College as a serious online school. Students truly appreciate the flexibility to study at their own pace.
I can tell you from personal experience over the years how both companies and traditional education institutions were not all too fond of people presenting “credentials” and “Degrees,” from online schools. I will reserve that discussion for some other time and place.
I have no doubt that in the midst of this world-wide, ongoing CoronaVirus Pandemic, students from virtually every learning institution in the country have experienced learning online over the past year and a half, and still counting. Today traditional colleges and universities are embracing and partnering with Christian Leaders College to accept transfer students into a myriad of programs. Some of these institutions include Calvin Theological Seminary, Ohio Christian University, Northern and Western Seminaries, and more.
While there are challenges the organization will face in the coming years, and I would add that these challenges would be found in any online learning program, the need for more personal connection and interacting will be a struggle. However, Christian Leaders Institute has in a sense, broken through the glass ceiling of education, to “build up” Christian leaders around the world to spread the gospel.
Anonymous (n.d.) History. Christian Leaders Ministries. https://www.christianleadersinstitute.org/history/
Anonymous (n.d.) Ministry Assessment Instrument. Retrieved from OCU https://npregion.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Assessment-Guide.pdf
BBB (2021) Cristian Leaders Institute-Reviews. Better Business Bureau.com Retrieved from https://www.bbb.org/us/fl/saint-petersburg/profile/non-profit-organizations/christian-lead ers-institute-0653-90293852/customer-reviews
Dobson, H. (2021) Christian Leaders Institute Testimony. Spring Lake, MI: CLI https://www.christianleadersinstitute.org/
EGH & Associates (2019) Independent Auditor’s Report. EGH & Associates. Orland Park, IL https://www.christianleadersinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/CLI_FS_2019.pdf
Facebook (2021) Facebook Analytics. CLI Student Thursday FB Group. Los Angeles, CA: Facebook
Houseal, R. (2011) What Pastors & Laity Say We Should Measure and Why. Retrieved from OCU
Indeed (2021) Christian Leaders Institute-Reviews. Retrieved online from https://www.indeed.com/certifications/companies/christian-leaders-institute-DGRS4HR6/ reviews
Reyenga, H. (2016) 15-year CLI Anniversary. Christian Leaders Institute, Spring Lake, MI: CLI https://www.christianleadersinstitute.org/20665/
Reyenga, H. (2018) Special Message from Henry Reyenga & Steve Elzinga. Retrieved from
Smith, M., Wright, D. (2011) The Church Leaders MBA. Circleville, OH: OCU Press
Staff (2021) Christian Leaders Getting Started. Spring Lake, MI: Christian Leaders Institute
Staff (2021) Mission Impact. Christian Leaders Institute, Spring Lake, MI: CLI
©2022 Clayton Moore for Pastoral Leadership essay.
(As was previously submitted towards requirement for MA. Min.)