Clergy Licensing and Ordination with CLA
My name is Chris Bender, and I am pleased to grow in my education at the Christian Leaders Institute and College and receive clergy licensing for the ministry of proclaiming Jesus Christ. Working in insurance has been my “Tent Making” job for close to 30 years. I am thankful that God is providing for my family and me through it. I am a Bible teacher and study facilitator at TLC Gathering, a small home church and work-study congregation in our region. My family and I live in the Northern California region in a suburb about 20 miles north of Sacramento.
My mother continues to remind me that she became a Christian when she was pregnant with me. She was always certain that God had a special call for my life. I am blessed to have a family who loved and cared for my younger brother, my older brother, and me. With my father’s industry being construction, we relocated many times during my childhood. That created some insecurities on my part.
I became a Christian as a young child and received water baptism in the Spirit as an adolescent. My mother was the spiritual leader in our family as my father didn’t become a believer until age 60, and I was blessed that, by the Holy Spirit, I was able to be a part of bringing him to Christ. My high school experience was tumultuous. It resulted in me hating school in general. Due to this disdain, I half-heartedly entered college and quit after obtaining 58 units as I entered my 20s.
Growing in the Lord
Years after high school and college, God’s grace working through me brought me to a place to forgive those who verbally abused me. Consistently going through God’s word, from beginning to end, was instrumental in this process of forgiveness. As a believer, I knew I couldn’t strengthen my walk with Christ when I neglected to forgive. I also knew that unforgiveness would result in continued torment (Matthew 18). I am called to emulate my Lord’s forgiveness – whose sacrifice is so much more than I could ever aspire to.
Although my devotion to Christ had its ups and downs, I finally came to a place in my adult life that had me recognizing God’s calling on my life. I began my work in ministry over 25 years ago as a youth leader for a growing church. Over time, I found that my love for God’s Word expanded to teaching adults and leading studies. Whether it was a book of the Bible, topical studies, or apologetics, I enjoyed spending time in God’s Word and helping others grow in the same.
Listening to God’s Word
I knew that being busy was no excuse to avoid studying the scriptures, yet I struggled to maintain the consistent study of God’s Word. Since my work commute was a fair distance, the audio Bible became the most effective way for me to continue to be in God’s Word regularly. In time, I made it a habit of going through the Bible (from Genesis to Revelation, in multiple versions) between 3 – 4 times each year. This process continued for well over a decade.
One of the benefits of hearing it without using a study Bible (or some other Bible with commentary notes) is that I just listened to the text. It kept me from getting too involved in eisegesis (importing outside ideas into the text). I heard God’s word and extracted what I felt the Holy Spirit communicated. I found that many major in the minors and forget to focus on the main thing: Jesus Christ is the King of Kings. Salvation is in Jesus Christ, the only way to the Father. Our role is to expand His kingdom by proclaiming Him as King of Lings and Lord of Lords and the only means for salvation.
My Ministry Service
I’ve been blessed to be able to teach God’s word for the last quarter of a century. I have taught the majority of the books in the Bible. For over 14 years, I set up a habitual process to share God’s Word with those at my place of work. I set up a weekly office Bible study. It covered the historical books of the New Testament and Old Testament and some prophetic books and epistles.
Currently, I am leading 3 Bible studies via a home church and workplace congregation of believers called TLC Gathering (www.tlcgathering.org). Meanwhile, I still work full-time, providing employee benefits to employers. My late friend, Dan Springmeyer (who passed away in 2018), and I founded this small gathering of believers. It is an honor to serve our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In the past few years, I’ve been blessed to find that I have a biological sister (she found me through 23 and Me) while I also had the unfortunate loss of my older brother. My younger brother works full-time and serves in ministry in the San Jose region of California.
My wife, Paula, and I have one son, Caleb, a computer science major in college. In God’s time, I will lessen my work in employee benefits and get my clergy licensing and ordination. Then, I can expand my work in teaching others the Bible. Whether it be via a job as a college professor of theology or expanding my teaching at churches, I know that this is where God has called me: to seek and save the lost and to equip and expand the Body of Christ so we can continue to grow the Kingdom of God.
Theological Education at CLI and CLC
I really appreciate the ministry of the Christian Leaders Institute, as they’ve been instrumental in allowing me to further my theological education. Though I spent thousands of hours studying scripture and biblical scholars’ material, none of it was at an official level. Due to the severe emotional abuse I dealt with in high school for a long time, I was not fond of even the idea of school. Thankfully, my Christian friend and chiropractor, “Dr. D.” mentioned an online college he’d enrolled in by the name of Christian Leaders Institute. He said, “Perhaps you could be my mentor?” Who knew that a chiropractic adjustment appointment would change the ministerial direction of my life?
Since I spent so much time in biblical studies, this allowed me to move through classes at a much faster pace. However, even with all my previous studies, several classes notably increased my knowledge as I obtained my Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees from the Christian Leaders College. Knowledge enrichment occurred in multiple areas and through various professor’s videos, articles, and historical information. I am currently studying Greek and getting my clergy licensing and ordination. I appreciate CLC’s classes to help me be more effective in ministry.
Clergy Licensing with the Christian Leaders Alliance
I desire that the Holy Spirit works through me in a mighty way. I plan to expand biblical teaching to become the largest part of my waking hours. With my Bachelor of Divinity Degree, I may get a part-time or full-time job as a pastor. As a pastor, it will be necessary for me to perform funerals and wedding ceremonies. I have performed multiple funerals but have not yet performed any wedding ceremonies. Clergy licensing and ordination with the Christian Leaders Alliance are important. The Licensed Wedding Officiant class is an important part of my classwork and training to ensure I am prepared and licensed in that role. This step can open up more doors of ministry for me.
I pray that God uses me in the capacity that best serves His Kingdom. Please pray for God’s mighty hand upon me that I preach Christ without fear or hesitation. Pray that I also deliver God’s Kingdom’s entire message to both His Body and the lost. To God, be the glory!
Learn more about ordination at the Christian Leaders Alliance. Interested in a low-cost degree? Check out the Christian Leaders College.