April 22, 2006

Homeless

I am officially homeless! And, I have never been more excited...and scared. We wrote a contract on my house in less than two weeks and will have closed and moved within 6 weeks from beginning to end. I hope, though, that I never have to sell another house (though I know I probably will).

Things have gone rather smoothly, but it is still hectic trying to get the house ready, keep it clean for showings, sweating the inspection, and wrestling over the last details.

Now, it is off to Ohio. This is more than just moving to work in a new church. I am leaving my current denomination which means I will have to surrender my ordination credentials. This is harder than I thought, because they were the focus of all my work for about 8 years.

I have been thinking, though, about the role of ordination in the ministry. While in seminary I argued with a fellow classmate that when times are tough in ministry the pastor can look not only to his/her call, but also to their ordination. I still believe that. The church is a community. When we narrow our "calling" down to just that moment when we "feel" the presence of God leading us into ministry, we short-change the church.

Ordination is the Church's confirmation of God's leading in my life. It signifies that they too see evidence for my decision to pursue full-time ministry. I am not saying that a pastor cannot lead or preach without ordination, but I do believe that ordination is a very important part. We are both a community and an individual in presence of God.

Ministry is certainly not confined to those with ordination credentials. In fact, the "professional" minister is given to the church in order to "equip the saints for works of ministry." That means that the community is responsible for the actual ministry and the "professional" ministry is responsible to train and equip to pray and teach.

I was talking with a friend about the church's understanding of paying a pastor. Often they think of it like they would an employee. But I don't think the Pastor is the church's employee. I believe the church gives the pastor financial support for the work of the ministry. Unfortunately, most churchs think they pay the pastor a salary (and most pastors don't make that distinction with their church boards and people). The distinction is significant. As an employee, the board tells the pastor what to do and how to spend their time. They are expected to do certain things (preaching, visitation, spend 8 hrs in an office, etc). As a compensation, the Pastor is to do what benefits and furthers the mission of the kingdom. The activities may look very similar, but the purpose and philosophy behind it is very different.

As for now, though, I will be ministering without my credentials.

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