For the love of the game

I’ve often thought that our trust issues in United Methodism would be helped with more public thinking by the men and women charged with leading our denomination.

This is why I have always valued Sky McCraken’s blog.

His latest post is a spot on example: A Pastor By Any Other Name — Revisited

The question that emerges for me after reading his post goes something like this: Would I be a pastor if there was no salary, no insurance, and no retirement plan? Would I do it because I was called and for no other reason?

If the answer is yes, then what would that look like?

The answer to my first two questions is “yes.” But I’m not sure what the answer to the third question would could be.

I wonder how you would answer.

Tales from candidacy interviews

This is one of those posts that I might live to regret the next time my dCom meeting comes around.

Here is the truth, though. I’ve been preaching in a United Methodist Church since April 2007. This year, 2014, for the very first time, I had someone in supervision of my ministry ask me to articulate my understanding of Wesleyan theology.

My answer that day was a brief walk through of the four alls of Methodism:

  • All need to be saved.
  • All can be saved by the grace of Jesus Christ.
  • All can know they are saved.
  • All can be saved to the uttermost.

I made sure to work in specific reference to Jesus Christ, as I’ve heard rumors of candidates for ordination not bringing up his name during interviews. Those rumors were confirmed a few minutes later.

One of the people interviewing me told me later — in response to a question of mine about how to prepare for the Board of Ordained Ministry in coming years — that one problem the Board encounters from time to time is candidates who cannot articulate a clear sense of who Jesus is and why he matters.

This still surprises me even as I type the words. Candidates for ministry who cannot talk about Jesus?

So, as a service to both our Boards of Ordained Ministry and future candidates for ordination, I’d be interested in hearing stories like these. Where to candidates struggle? What questions did you as a candidate never get that you expected to have to answer?

Has the ‘big sort’ come to the UMC?

Rev. Jen Stuart of First UMC in Austin, Texas, explains her decision to leave Texas and seek ordination in the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church. The short version: She wants to be ordained in a conference where she does not have to conceal her opposition to the Book of Discipline.

Several years ago, a book called The Big Sort made a splash. The thesis of the book was that Americans were clustering together into like-minded enclaves, which was leading to increased division and the polarization we’ve been seeing in our political system for a number of years. (Here’s a short article that captures the idea.)

Is the United Methodist “big sort” already underway?

How would you rebuild ordination?

A reader raised a good question in the comment thread about ordination.

That being said, the blog I read called for the UMC to not just make tweaks, but to completely overhaul the ordination system. So, at the risk of highjacking John’s blog since I don’t have one of my own, I have to ask what a new system of ordination would look like. If we stripped everything away and started from scratch, what would our priorities be?

Another way of asking the question is, what do we have to do to provide a pastor with basic formation? What priorities do we want that pastor to have and how will we equip that pastor to live those priorities out in the life of the church?

What do you think?

Things you won’t read in the clergy candidacy recruitment brochure

After blogging about David Watson’s thoughts on the ordination process, I found two more interesting things to read relating to ordination and being a clergy member in the UMC.

Willie Deuel writes about his own painful experience in the ordination process and has some strong words about the need for reform.

The United Methodist Reporter interviews a pastor who left the UMC when faced with an unwanted move. The comments section is particularly eye opening.

Is the ordination process too arbitrary?

United Theological Seminary dean David Watson recounts his ordination experience and asks a question that many clergy and candidates would give a quick answer to.

Is the UM Ordination Process too Arbitrary?

Since my ordination I have served on the District Committee for the Miami Valley District of the West Ohio Conference, as well as the West Ohio Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. I’ve reflected a great deal on the ordination process and the proper work of committees and boards who have oversight of the process. I have much more to say about this matter, but there is one item that I want to highlight in this post: the biggest problem with our ordination process is that it is not undergirded by a clear theology of ordination.