Contenders Discipleship Initiative

Contending for the faith

Frequently Asked Questions

Village Missions
Village Missions serves more than 230 rural communities throughout North America. Our aim is to provide a Christ-centered community church program capable of involving the entire population of a local community with worship services, personal contacts in homes, Sunday schools, home and group Bible studies, special youth and adult activities, vacation Bible schools, and other activities.

Village Missions places full-time spiritually qualified missionary leadership at the invitation of local rural communities and supports that leadership through prayer, financial and other logistical assistance. Village Missions exists to glorify Jesus Christ by developing spiritually vital churches in rural North America.

What is CDI?

The Contenders Discipleship Initiative (CDI) is a two-year program offered by Village Missions to equip Christians for ministry within their local church and to prepare those who are called for full-time ministry as missionary pastors.
The CDI program is tuition-free and involves two components:
1. Biblical Education
2. Mentoring for Ministry

The Biblical component is a rigorous but compact curriculum delivered in six courses. The Mentoring component is provided by a pastor/mentor. Successful completion of the Contenders Discipleship Initiative program satisfies the educational requirements of Village Missions for missionary applicants.

What is the history of Contenders Bible School?
The Contenders Discipleship Initiative is modeled after Contenders Bible School of Machias Community Church where for several decades a local church has trained and sent out many missionary pastors. The Contenders model follows the Biblical mandate to make disciples, to equip the saints, to send those who are called into the ministry. The name comes from Jude 3 where we are urged to "Contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" and the Great Commission where Jesus gives us the job of making disciples.

For more information, see What is CDI?

What is the Contenders Bible School curriculum?
The program of six courses is taken over a two-year period.
1. Bibliology and How to Study the Bible
2. Christian Doctrine
3. New Testament
4. Church History
5. Old Testament
6. Evangelism, Teaching and Preaching

When are these courses offered?
Churches using the CDI program will typically offer courses on a quarterly basis: Fall, Winter, Spring. The program of six courses is taken over a two-year period. For individual distance learners, the program can be started at anytime.

How long will it take to go through this training?
The CDI course work is typically 6 quarters over a two-year period. Completion of the full CDI course work in two years will require 4 class hours per week during the quarter. Typically, classes are held 2 nights per week for 2 hours each. For those applying to Village Missions there is a minimum amount of practical ministry training that needs to take place with a pastor/mentor regardless of how they complete the course work.

How much outside homework is require for each course?
Please consult with your pastor/mentor concerning the amount of homework required for each course. However, a general rule of thumb is 2 hours outside class for each hour in class.

What additional training beyond the CDI course work is required to apply to Village Missions?
For those applying to Village Missions there is a minimum amount of practical ministry training that needs to take place with a pastor/mentor regardless of how they complete the course work.

What is a pastor/mentor?
Mentoring has been the key to the success of Contenders at Machias Community Church in sending missionaries into Village Missions. Students at Contenders Bible School were challenged with the call to ministry and those who responded were further encouraged and given the opportunity to develop their ministry under the guidance of the pastor. Those who entered into full-time ministry continue to receive the support and encouragement of their mentoring pastor. This ongoing mentoring relationship is Biblical and the model the CDI will follow.

How does mentoring work in relationship with the CDI  program? (Do I receive hands-on training, e.g., officiate at weddings, etc?)
Those who are called to full-time ministry are given guided experience in every facet of the ministry. For those called to the ministry of Village Missions this certainly involves participation in weddings, funerals, counseling, church governance, home and hospital visitation as well as preaching and teaching experience.

Is it necessary to have a Mentor?
To meet the qualifications for ministry with Village Missions a potential candidate must have successfully completed the course work of the CDI and the additional training that comes from having a mentor. Regardless of where one gets his training, having a mentor in ministry is essential...and it is Biblical.

Who teaches CDI courses?
It is preferred that the program be administered by a pastor/mentor. Resources for teaching the course work of the CDI are provided in videos supported by guide books for both the student and the pastor/mentor. Those individuals who are not under the mentorship of a local pastor will still be able to access the resources for individual distance learning, but are strongly encouraged to seek out a mentor.

If I take these courses online, and I feel called to full-time Christian ministry, how will I be matched to a mentor?
It is the individual’s responsibility to seek out mentorship. We recognize that this is the most difficult part of the CDI for those who do not have anyone they can look to for mentorship, and finding the wrong mentor can be worse than having no mentor at all. Those who have not developed a relationship with a mentor, please contact us for help.

How are courses graded?
Contenders Discipleship Initiative uses a Narrative Evaluation approach rather than issuing grades during a student's course of study. A narrative assessment is written feedback after each course that states what a student has learned during a period of study. The Contenders Discipleship Initiative Narrative Evaluation consists of two written evaluations: one from the pastor for each student attending a course and one from the student giving a self-assessment. 

May I use my Bible when taking tests?
Yes, you may. All tests are "open book" tests. Contenders is all about using any resources you have including your Bible, your notes, your text books and any online resources.

Are these courses free?
Yes, the courses are tuition-free. Video class sessions and Student Guides are available for each course online. The only cost would be for printing the Guides and purchasing any text books a particular course might require. Check the course syllabuses for this information.

How do I register?
The registration form is available online at the Contenders website.  Once you register, you will receive a copy via e-mail.  You will want to print or e-mail a copy and present it to your pastor if you are attending an instructor-led course in a local Village Missions church.  Everyone should register for each course they take whether they are accessing the courses online or taking the course taught by a pastor/mentor.

How will I find a class in my area?
Contact us to find out if there are any church-based classes using the CDI program near your location.

Who can attend these courses?
The CDI program is available to anyone interested in pursuing a Bible education.

I am not a member of Village Missions affiliated church, can I still take these courses?
Yes - though we encourage seeking mentorship from your pastor early on.

Is this an accredited academic program?
No. The purpose of Contenders Discipleship Initiative is to provide a tuition-free, college-level Bible education for the churches within Village Missions. Some students will be called into full-time ministry as Village Missionaries. To do so a student must complete the entire program and meet Village Mission's Service Qualifications. The Contenders Discipleship Initiative does not offer academic credit nor grant certificates for completing any of the courses.

Do I receive a Certificate after completing these courses?
No. The Contenders Discipleship Initiative does not issue academic certificates or degrees. Student records for completing these courses are the responsibility of both the student and the pastor/mentor. If application is made to Village Missions or to any other ministry both the student and the pastor/mentor will need to submit copies of the student record of completion.

Upon completing the CDI including mentorship will I be equipped to go into other full-time ministries other than Village Missions?
Graduates from Contenders Bible School of Machias Community Church (upon which the Contenders Discipleship Initiative is built) have gone into other ministries including foreign missions and youth ministry. The acceptance of the CDI as qualification for service is up to each organization. Acceptance by any other organization is not guaranteed by Village Mission or the Contenders Discipleship Initiative.

What is the Contenders Discipleship Initiative?

Basic Computer Proficiency Required For Online Courses

Are there any technical requirements for taking these courses?
A basic level of computer proficiency is required for successful completion of an online course. Students should be comfortable working with the Internet and computer software programs such as Adobe Acrobat Reader and e-mail. To view courses online you must have a personal computer (Mac or Windows) and a broadband internet connection (DSL, cable, other).

Load time of the website and videos depends upon the speed of your Internet service. You will need the latest versions of an Internet browser.

A partial list of technical requirements is below:

Operating System for Computers:
Windows® 7 or Windows® 8
Mac X

Internet Connection:
Broadband (High-Speed) Internet Connection

Browser such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari or FireFox (latest versions)
Adobe Acrobat Reader (latest version)
E-mail program
Virus protection software

Mobile Devices:
Classroom videos also run on tablets and smart phones. However, the use of Kindle Fire is not recommended.

Contenders Discipleship Initiative Student

Other Information

How can I donate to CDI?
Village Missions is a non-profit organization that is totally dependent upon the generosity of those that believe in our ministry of building healthy country churches and reaching the surrounding community for Christ. If you would like to share financially in the support of Contenders Discipleship Initiative, please donate or contact us for more details.

Can I contribute my own educational materials to the Contenders Discipleship Initiative?
The Contenders Discipleship Initiative curriculum is established and these six courses taught by Village Missionaries are considered complete. However the CDI will consider for inclusion on a resource page links to other works giving special preference to those with experience in rural ministry.

How does the Contenders Discipleship Initiative produce video courses?
Village Missions funded a small team to record, edit and produce the courses that comprise the Biblical Education component of the Contenders Discipleship Initiative. This is a time-intensive process.  The funds used to produce these videos have come from generous supporters of this initiative. If you would like to contribute to this project visit the Village Missions website, or contact us for details.

Who owns the copyright to videos and all materials published on the CDI website?
Unless otherwise stated, Village Missions holds the copyright for ALL content on

Do I need permission to use Contenders Discipleship Initiative videos for ministry purposes (church, Bible study, camps, etc.) if I am not affiliated with Village Missions?
Permission is given to use Contenders Discipleship Initiative materials for non-commercial use ONLY. Profit-making entities cannot charge a fee for access to any of the material found on the website. Additionally, no works derived from the CDI materials may be used for profit.

How does the Contenders Discipleship Initiative use the information collected from visitors to the web site?
The information collected from forms filled out on the website is used to inform visitors about updates to the website, information about Village Missions and the Contenders Discipleship Initiative program.

Does CDI accept credits from other Bible colleges?
No. The Contenders Discipleship Initiative is a unique program with a very robust, compact curriculum.  Courses can contain several related subjects that are taught together and this relationship of subject matter is integral to the program.

Still Have Questions?
You are welcome to contact us and ask us any additional questions you may have.