What is our theology of calling?

Mark Beeson in two posts and Jay Voorhees in another one are raising questions about nature of ministry and the system of ordination in the United Methodist Church.

The posts and comments raise again – for me at least – questions about our theology of calling.

Of course, I am a bad commentator on these questions. I am a licensed local pastor. I am bi-vocational. I pastor a church with fewer members than a high school algebra class. What standing do I have to speak of ordination and the tussles over the ministry of the elder?

All can I offer are my observations.

We seem to struggle quite a bit in balancing our theology of calling between the sense of “my” – emphasis on the personal aspects of that – calling and the church’s role. Careerism seems to creep into the process from the first step and bureaucracy and institutional preservation looms over it as well.

Do we have a theology of calling?

One thought on “What is our theology of calling?

  1. This is an excellent question, for to my knowledge I have never seen a BOM or other church organization do a theological and biblical reflection on calling.

    One of the things that I think would be interesting in doing that work from a biblical basis would be to recognize: 1) the diversity of callings in the Bible (God calls in many different ways); 2) the degree of “unworthiness” of those called (Moses the murderer, Mary the teenage mother, etc) with the main criteria being a willingness to respond and submit to the call; 3) the recognition that even those called are filled with human frailties and weaknesses.

    The problem we face is that forces in society (liability insurance, effectiveness in ministry, etc.) lead us to attempt to ensure professionalism rather than discerning a call and then providing a means by which folks called at different levels of faith can be mentored into mature and effective leaders.

    Finally, you have all the standing in the world to talk about issues of ministry for you are as engaged in the day to day act of it as any of us. While there are limitations in what the institution allows you to practice, at the same time there is a certain degree of freedom from being overtaken by the institution that gives you a perspective that needs to be heard.

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