Occupational Certificate: Christian Religious Professional – NQF Level 5


The purpose of this qualification is to prepare a learner to operate as a Christian Religious Professional. A Christian Religious Professional directs and conducts the ministry functions in a faith community in order to facilitate spiritual formation; nurture fellowship and mutual care within the faith community; helps members to develop a Christian lifestyle; provides strategic leadership that leads to obedience to vocation as well as well-being and sustainability of the faith community; and develops a missional practice that shares the good news of Jesus Christ and serves the holistic well-being of the entire community.

A qualified learner will be able to:

  • Lead the faith community in spiritual formation that nurtures their relationship with God.
  • Develop and nurture fellowship and mutual care within the faith community.
  • Facilitate the holistic well-being of people within the faith community by developing pro-active and reactive (coping) life skills and a Christian value system.
  • Provide visional leadership that leads to obedience to vocation, as well as well-being and sustainability of the faith community.
  • Develop a missional practice that shares the good news of Jesus Christ and serves the holistic well-being of the entire community.



Religious ministers serving churches and Christian groups in Southern Africa come from two distinct backgrounds. The first is deemed more formal in nature (also referred to as the so-called historic churches) while the second is seen as less formal and originated from more recent development processes. This second group includes what is referred to as Pentecostal and Charismatic churches and the large group of African Initiated Churches (AICs). Recent estimates indicate that there are around 186,000 pastors (ministers of religion) in this less formal group, compared to the number of around 9,000 for the historic churches.


As far as professional formation is concerned, the historic churches have a strong teaching and training tradition. Training of pastors (ministers of religion) in this relatively small group of churches was mainly on tertiary level at public universities (faculties of theology) or denominational seminaries. By contrast, access to formal training is virtually impossible to the vast majority of pastors in the less formal group. This lack of access is due to several reasons including geographical and financial reasons, and to most also due to a lack of appropriate prior learning. The qualifications under discussion are designed to overcome these challenges.


There are currently no formally recognised qualifications for religious practitioners within the Christian tradition, apart from the Higher Education qualifications registered through the different tertiary educational institutions. With the introduction of the new occupational certificate, society will benefit from the assurance that large numbers of spiritual leaders who did not have a proper training opportunity in the past, will now have training available to develop a relevant set of competencies. Two aspects are important in this regard.


Firstly, there is a growing concern in South Africa about moral degeneration and the loss of positive values in our communities, with the associated loss of hope, increase in crime levels, degeneration of our social fibre, etc. As South Africans have been shown to be a religiously inclined population, and as the people adhering to the Christian faith form the vast majority in the country (about 80% of the population according to the latest census information), Christian Ministers of Religion can play a significant role in turning these negative tendencies around. Well-formed and trained religious leaders in the community are needed for this to transpire. The new qualifications that aim at providing quality training with the appropriate content and focus, and that will be accessible to large numbers of presently untrained ministers of religion will make a huge contribution to the turning around of negative tendencies.


Secondly, there is a growing concern in our country about religious leaders, including leaders in the Christian tradition, whose conduct is unprofessional and detrimental to the community. This can, inter alia, be ascribed to a lack of proper training and inadequate training standards and professional oversight. Although this problem does occur in all spheres of the religious community, it is certainly also a serious issue in the informal church environment. Quality training, linked to the development of professional standards and a system of professional oversight will go a long way to protect communities against irresponsible persons who misuse their position as spiritual leaders in the community.


Churches with existing qualifications also support the development of this occupational qualification. The new qualification is not intended to replace existing Theology qualifications on tertiary level, but would rather fill a gap in the need for a qualification for the large number of pastors and other persons who want to function as ministers of religion, but do not have access to Higher Learning. The qualification would serve in this need as well by providing access to Higher Qualifications.


The training should be of a nature that will address the competencies required to effectively direct and conduct ministry functions whilst also making provision for the various unique theological nuances of the various Christian traditions.


The Occupational Certificate will be accessible to existing spiritual leaders who did not have the benefit of proper training in the past, and who do not have access to tertiary training at universities or private training institutions. It will also be accessible to newcomers to the profession who want to be trained as pastors, but who do not have access to tertiary training or who prefer to go the occupational training route.



This qualification is made up of the following compulsory Knowledge, Practical Skills and Work Experience Modules:

Upon Completion of all three components, Knowledge, Practical Skills and Work Experience, the candidate will write an examination set by the Quality Council of Trade and Occupation (QCTO) and will be endorsed for credits accordingly by the QCTO.

A Qualified Learner will be able to:

  • Prepare and deliver a sermon incorporating the principles of exegesis, hermeneutics and homiletics.
  • Administer sacraments within the context of a specific faith tradition.
  • Plan and conduct a worship service.
  • Facilitate spiritual growth for individuals and groups.
  • Develop and nurture healthy relationships in a diverse faith community.
  • Lead the faith community to show loving care in times of need or crisis.
  • Lead the faith community to live according to a Christian value system and Christian virtues.
  • Develop pro-active and reactive (coping) life skills in the faith community through preaching, teaching, counselling and mentoring.
  • Lead a faith community through visionary spiritual leadership (strategic management as a spiritual discipline).
  • Facilitate effective ministries in a faith community (operational management as a spiritual discipline).
  • Facilitate stewardship processes in the faith community (stewardship as a spiritual discipline).
  • Mobilise the faith community to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the world.
  • Plan and execute outreach programs to deal with socio-economic and other relevant needs in the wider community.
  • Initiate and/or participate in interventions to deal with needs and emergency situations in the community and community development initiatives.
  • Conduct and promote spiritual advocacy relating to social justice issues (prophetic voice in society).


Entry Requirements:

NQF level 4 with English (Grade 12 – Matric)


Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL):  for access to the qualification: Accredited providers and approved workplaces may recognise prior learning against the relevant access requirements.


RPL simply means that if you have been in the ministry for a while and have the relevant experience or you may have studied with international colleges and have the relevant qualifications, you can be measured through and interview process against this qualification to see what you have already achieved and what are your shortfalls, meaning that you only need to study and complete those modules which are your shortfalls.