ACRP was formed through a merger between two related organisations, namely the Association for Ministry Training Practitioners (AMTP) and the Southern African Association for Pastoral Work.

AMTP was established in 2014 by a representative group of ministry practitioners, representing churches and church networks, other ministry institutions, faculties of theology, seminaries and other training institutions, and chaplaincies. The initiative to bring the parties together went out of the Centre for Contextual Ministry at the University of Pretoria and Bible Media in Wellington.

The establishment of the organisation was in response to challenges related to ministry standards and ministry training, as experienced by many Christian churches and ministries in South and sub-Saharan Africa. The needs experienced by churches and ministries in the “independent” or “informal” church environment received special attention. The reality is that a very low percentage, even less than 10%, of Christian ministry leaders in South and sub-Saharan Africa have access to formal ministry training. There are currently more than an estimated 200,000 pastors in South Africa, and more than a million in sub-Saharan Africa, who did not have access to formal training for the work they do. Many informal (non-accredited) training institutions and programmes exist, but the work of these training centres are not strategically aligned, not comprehensive in nature and in some cases not of an appropriate standard.

The Council for Pastoral and Spiritual Counsellors (CPSC) was founded in 1991 to attend to the professionalisation of, and quality assurance in, pastoral counselling in Southern Africa. CPSC developed a registration and accreditation system which included the setting of counselling standards and the application of a code of ethics and a disciplinary code for counselling practitioners. The counselling practitioners it represents range from lay pastoral workers and counsellors, to pastors, chaplains and specialist counsellors. Specialist counsellors include private practitioners, family and marriage counsellors, trauma counsellors and mediators. Areas of work include congregations, hospitals, counselling centres and helplines, and uniformed services (the military, police service and correctional services). ACRP will in future also be a vehicle for the functions formerly performed by CPSC.

Upon the suggestion of the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), AMTP and SAAP were merged early in 2016 into one organisation, with different “ministry councils” dealing with the different professional groups represented in the organisation. Currently, there are three Councils within ACRP, namely the Council for General Ministry Practitioners (CGMP), the Council for Pastoral and Spiritual Counsellors (CPSC), and the Council for Ministry Training Practitioners (CMTP).

Another addition to the ACRP group is now also in the process: the 2016 AGM of the Association of Christian Counselling (ACC) expressed the request to be merged with SAAP/CPSC and through this to become part of ACRP. ACC comprises of professional, pastoral and lay counsellors. They represent diversity in practice and training but share a commitment to Biblical truth and psychological excellence. Their goals and ethos fit in well with that of ACRP/CPSC, and the inclusion of ACC into the ACRP will strengthen the process of professionalisation.

ACRP Mission Statement

ACRP provides two kinds of services, namely professional body services and training support services. These two groups of services are closely related: to be a professional assumes that the persons was trained for the profession. With this in mind, ACRP’s mission statement (strategic focus) brings training and professionalisation together. The mission is:

  • To pursue the establishment of a professional body for “religious professionals” in terms of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Act of 2008, to be recognised by the SA Qualifications Authority (SAQA).
  • Through the professional body’s processes to support the professionalisation of religious (church, ministry) practice within the Christian tradition, with a particular focus on the needs of the independent / informal church environment.
  • As a special case, through the professional body to pursue to the professionalisation of pastoral counselling within the South African regulatory framework.
  • Through the professional body to develop a training dispensation that will guarantee access to affordable, formal ministry training to current and prospective ministry leaders across the continent, irrespective of challenges implied by their levels of prior learning, financial status, geographic location, etc.
  • To pursue the coordination (development of a joint vision and strategy) among a wide range of ministry training institutions in South, Southern and sub-Saharan Africa, and through this to strengthen the role churches and Christian ministries can play in the healing of communities in Africa.
  • To support efforts of other institutions related to the above, over the continent and internationally.

The ACRP Professional Body Principles & Functions

  • ACRP has been recognised by and registered with SAQA as a professional body for Christian religious practitioners
  • The principles for professionalization are as set out in the NQF Act, 67 of 2008, the SAQA professional body guidelines and the ACRP rules document.
  • One of the functions of the professional body is to focus on professionalization in the sphere of religious professions through training (ministerial formation).
    • In this capacity ACRP’s role is to develop, in conjunction with churches, ministries and training institutions a survey (general overview) of the ministry formation needs (in terms of training resources and accredited qualifications for ministry formation) in South Africa (and wider in Africa);
    • To identify the existing formal, SAQA accredited or recognised resources and qualifications for ministry formation in the country and region;
    • Where needed, to facilitate the development of appropriate new accredited qualifications and to assist training institutions in preparing applications for accreditation for these qualifications by the relevant authorities within the country’s formal qualification framework.
  • A related professionalization function is to define “professional designations: for the ministry occupations. The designations defined by ACRP and registered in terms of the NQF Act are:
    1. Religious Practitioner
    2. Religious Professional and
    3. Religious Specialist.
  • As the professional body for religious professionals, ACRP also provides a variety of additional professionalization services to churches, church networks, ministries and ministry networks and individual practitioners involved in Christian ministry, including guidance on matters of due diligence and responsible management.
  • Participation with the ACRP processes by partner institutions is arranged via Memoranda of Agreement. ACRP;s professional body services will be structured to fit the situation and needs of partner institutions while maintaining the basic professional body principles and functions.

The ACRP Registration / Affiliation Categories

  • Pastors and other persons in ministry linked to ACRP are referred to as “affiliates”. Affiliates may be registered with ACRP with or without a “designation”.
  • Designation” is the term used to indicate a professional level which is formally recognised by SAQA via a professional body. A designation is awarded to a person who has the required SAQA recognised qualification(s), or alternatively has proved competence via a process of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).
  • A person in ministry who does not have the required formal, SAQA recognised qualifications and who did not yet go through a process of RPL is merely registered with ACRP as an affiliate. Steps to be awarded a designation may follow afterwards – it is recommended but not set as a requirement.
  • ACRP recognises four levels of designation, namely religious practitioner, advanced religious practitioner, religious professional and religious specialist – see below for the relevant requirements.
  • Affiliates are expected to subscribe to an approved code of ethics and good practice, be subject to an approved disciplinary / accountability dispensation, and must participate in an ACRP accredited Continued Professional Development (CPD) programme.

The categories of registering persons in ministry with ACRP as the professional body are as follows:

Category Formal requirement Alternative route

(no designa­tion recorded)

Proven involvement in ministry Not applicable
Religious practitioner

(af­filiate on designation level 1)


Matric with 3 years proven ministry experience and RPL; or 5 years proven ministry experience and RPL (See “alternative route” for RPL mechanism) Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL):

• Portfolio of Evidence (PoE) of work experience and formal, informal and non-formal training

• Competence test base on the ACRP / QCTO job profile

• Bridging programmes as determined in accordance with outcomes of PoE and Competence test

• Participation in structured CPD programme

• A person will be invited into a training career towards an advanced designation level

Advanced religious practitioner (affiliate on designation level 2) NQF Level 2 or 4 ministry qualification
Religious professional (affiliate on designation level 3) NQF Level 5, 6, 7 or 8 ministry qualification (occupational certificate, higher /advanced certificate, diploma, B degree, B Hons degree)
Religious specialist (affiliate on designation level 4) NQF Level 9 or 10 ministry qualification (Master’s degree or Doctorate)

January 2018 to February 2019 Affiliation Fees

  • The basic fee structure for persons in ministry is as shown in the table below. Group discounts can be negotiated with denominations, churches or ministry institutions and networks who register their members, employees etc.
    Category Once off registration fee Annual affiliation fee
    Non-designated Affiliation R170 R150
    Religious practitioner R170 R150
    Advanced religious practitioner R170 R200
    Religious professional R170 R250
    Religious specialist R170 R300

    Institutional partnership fees will be determined on an Ad Hoc basis with churches, ministry institutions, ministry training institutions, etc.

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