BTCP’s stance on divorce, relating to pastor qualifications
BTCP cannot be used to train men who have been divorced, or women, to be pastors. Anyone other than a pastor may be trained and equipped through the BTCL program and receive a BTCL certificate of completion rather than a BTCP certificate.
For BTCL students, the above qualifications regarding character and motivation should be true as well, even though the biblical qualifications for pastors would not directly apply.
Statement on the use of the BTCP or BTCL curriculum for training men who have been divorced.
We are aware that the issue of divorced men in the role of pastor is a difficult one. We realize that some within the body of Christ may have differing views on how divorce affects the eligibility of an individual for pastoring a church and/or serving as an elder.
It is the official position of BTCP that we do not certify men to be pastors who have been divorced. We base this on the stated position of God in Malachi 2:16, on the Lord’s prohibition of divorce in the gospels, and the specific requirements for elders and deacons as given in 1 Tim. 3:2,12 and Titus 1:6.
While we do not intentionally train men who have been divorced in order that they may pastor, we do allow all men and women to attend the training as BTCL students. The only difference between BTCP and BTCL is in the fourth course: In BTCP the course is “Preaching Biblical Messages and Pastoral Ministry” (4P). In BTCL, the fourth course is simply “Communicating Biblical Messages” (4L). The pastoral ministry portion is not included in the BTCL track. A man who has been divorced should not go through the entire BTCP curriculum with other men who are training to be pastors. He should instead attend a class that is designated as only for BTCL students. We take this approach in order to serve all those who desire to be trained, including divorced men, while stopping short of certifying with an official certificate that BTCP has trained them as a pastor.
We want to emphasize that we do not believe the divorced man is unqualified for ministry in general but only seek to affirm the biblical requirements for the specific positions of elders and deacons. This is with the understanding that all pastors would also be considered to be acting in the role of elder. We want to enable all believers to be effectively equipped to undertake the ministry to which God is calling them and for which they are biblically qualified.
In both the “Pastoral Ministry” component of course #4P and in “Bible Doctrine Survey” course #5 the issue of qualifications for church leaders and the relevant biblical passages are presented and the students are challenged to determine for themselves what the text communicates on the subject.