Never Too Late to Contend for the Faith


Do you have people within your congregation who desire to know more about the Bible and grow in their faith, but have neither the time nor finances to enroll in seminary? Do you want your church to not only have a stronger understanding of what and why they believe, but also contend for the faith confidently?

The Contenders Discipleship Initiative – also abbreviated CDI – is a two-year, tuition-free 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.

Although this curriculum was originally designed to be taught within Village Missions churches, CDI has quickly expanded and is now being used by churches, organizations, and students all over the country (and even in a few foreign countries) to make disciples and train future ministry leaders!

Village Missions is amazed at how CDI has grown over the years – beginning in a small country church in rural Washington, and now being used to help Christians all over the globe grow in their walk with the Lord and contend for the faith with confidence.

The idea behind CDI began with Pastor Ron Sallee. Before he and his wife, Marilyn, began serving with Village Missions, he studied at Seattle Bible College. One day while he was sitting in city traffic on his usual commute to school, a sudden thought occurred to him: why is my local church not teaching me what I am learning in my classes?

After joining Village Missions and serving for 16 years, Pastor Ron began to create a learning curriculum based on the education he received at Bible College. He believed that deepened learning about the Bible and Christianity – and contending for the faith – was most successful within the local church.

So in 1995, while pastoring Machias Community Church in Machias, Washington, Pastor Ron introduced the Contender’s Bible School to his congregation. Pastor Ron named his curriculum after Jude 1:3 – “Beloved…I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints.” His desire was to see his congregation not only growing in their faith, but also to raise up ministry leaders within his own church.

As time progressed, more courses were added and with the help of an estate gift, Pastor Ron and Village Missions helped turn Contender’s Bible School into the Contender’s Discipleship Initiative. Now available in video format, CDI currently offers six intensive training courses:

  • Bibliology and How to Study the Bible
  • Christian Doctrine and Systematic Theology
  • New Testament Survey
  • Old Testament Survey
  • Church History
  • Evangelism, Teaching, and Preaching

As of today, 18 Village Missionaries currently serving throughout the U.S. and Canada have successfully gone through and graduated from the CDI coursework. Many of them have come from Pastor Ron’s church in Machias.

Frank & Lynn Puffer, who have been serving with Village Missions since 2001, are just one great example. They completed CDI at Machias before heading to their field of Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin. To them, CDI is truly what biblical discipleship is all about.

CDI is unique because it is designed for there to be natural relationship between you and those we care for,” Frank says. “Beginning with the first class – Bibliology & How to study the Bible – you will be involved personally with each student. As they study, they will be challenged in many ways and you will come to know them better – what they struggle with, what they believe, what their strengths and weaknesses are. Why? Because they are wrestling with God’s Word and are being trained to do so accurately. We then equip and help them to apply that which the Lord is revealing to them, and thus grow up into the fullness of Christ Jesus, and so in turn be faithful witnesses of the Gospel.”

As mentioned previously, even churches outside of Village Missions have adopted CDI and are using it within their congregation.

Grace Community Church – nestled in the Willamette Valley in Dallas, Oregon, adopted the CDI coursework and experienced just how beneficial it was for their congregation.

CDI has fostered a love for and knowledge of God’s Word within our congregation,” says Teaching Pastor Dave Bertolini. “It has effectively challenged our people to study God’s Word in a deeper way, while also equipping them with the skills to do so. In fact, we just hired a new pastor from within our church body who was trained in part through the CDI program. CDI is truly a remarkable tool and a gift to the church for discipleship and leadership development.” 

Whether CDI is used to train future Village Missionaries, or utilized within churches to educate their congregation, going through CDI reaps many valuable benefits. This tuition-free program is available to anyone, anywhere – for free.

So, are you ready to lead your congregation through this advanced discipleship training program? Let CDI be a part of that incredible journey!

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