Tuesday, March 07, 2006


"To Become a Certified Candidate
1. Submit written response to questions in ¶311.3 (b)
& (c) providing evidence of understanding and
expectation concerning.... "

My understanding of God's call to licensed or ordained ministry and the role of the church in your call

My understanding of God’s call to licensed or ordained ministry is rooted in the idea that although God calls all people to participate in God’s vision of Shalom in the world, God also calls certain people to be “set apart” for guiding the “People of God” to live out that vision. Licensed and ordained ministry is a ministry that constitutes one who is spiritual director, shepherd and nurturer, sometimes a prophet, and sacramental living. All these different roles are embodied at different moments by the pastor/deacon who is called to ordained or licensed ministry.

The person called to licensed or ordained ministry is called by God to be a spiritual director in the life of a congregation. A spiritual director is someone who helps people tells the stories of their lives and to see those stories as part of the Sacred Story of God, Israel and Jesus. It is important for a congregation to see itself as a living part of God’s continuing “story” in the world. Through the weekly invitation to participate in the “stories” of faith, expressed through liturgy, prayer, hearing the Word and partaking of the sacrament of communion people can experience the means of grace that God offers.

The person called to licensed or ordained ministry can also be seen as a shepherd or nurturer in the life of the community. According to the document, “GIFTED2SERVE”, the gift of shepherding is, "The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to assume a long-term personal responsibility for the welfare of a group of believers."[1] The ordained or licensed shepherd ought to show concern and a desire to nurture all people in the life of a congregation- children, youth, and adults of all ages. And it’s important that the shepherd be willing to equip laypersons of all ages to become effective shepherds, as well.

Probably the most unpopular role that God calls the set apart ministry of the licensed and ordained is that of prophet. To be a prophet is to “show special ability that God gives to receive and communicate an immediate message of God to God’s people with authority and urgency perceived by the hearers.”[2] Sometimes this roles means that God’s words may be hard for a congregation to hear, or be an unpopular stand that goes against what popular culture is claiming outside the faith community of the Church. But being prophetic at certain times and helping a congregation discern its place and role in the world community can also be quite a transforming experience.

Lastly, I would suggest that one who is called to licensed or ordained ministry is called to a sacramental life. Although in the United Methodist Church elders and licensed local pastors are only to administer sacraments, I think it’s important that Elder, Local Pastor and Deacon all live a life that embodies “Sacrament”. This means that those called to ordained or licensed ministry observe certain “practices” or “means of grace” that are not only outward signs of God’s grace but actually over time help to transform us more into the image of God.

One who is called to ordained or licensed ministry can only live that calling out in the life of a congregational community. God calls God’s people to live in community with one another- to be a Body- each with a unique role. The pastor as spiritual director, as shepherd, as prophet and sacramental embodiment together suggests that the one who is called to ordained/licensed ministry is called to empower and equip others to know the Story of God and God’s People, to live the Story of God and God’s People, and to spread the Story of God and God’s People.

Works Cited:

1. Gifted 2 Serve, http://buildingchurch.net/g2s-d.htm

[1] http://buildingchurch.net/g2s-d.htm

[2] http://buildingchurch.net/g2s-d.htm

1 comment:

TN Rambler said...

Good thoughts Jonathon.

How soon do you go back before the dCOM?