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?

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6 thoughts on “Tales from candidacy interviews

  1. MIne comes from many years ago. When I went through for “probationary” ordination, and was coming as an Asbury student to a non-Asbury-loving Annual Conference, I was advised to downplay my evangelicalism. So I did — and came across as a liturgy loving centrist.

    For what was then called “Elder’s Orders” three years later (after two years of full time ministry), I didn’t hide anything of my evangelicalism in the papers & interviews. And the process went BETTER that time around. I still pull out my papers every once in awhile — printed on a dot matrix, tractor-feed printer.

  2. When I went up for deacon’s orders/probationary membership (I am dating myself), I got asked about some of what I wrote about baptism. “Did you learn that gobbledygook about regeneration down at Emory?” Being the smarta$$ I was in those days, I picked up a Discipline and read Articles XVII and IX from the Articles and Confession of Faith. Another BoOM member quickly said, “We don’t have any more questions for you.” And I was done in 5 minutes.

    I thought it was just someone trying to trip me up. I later found out that said person really didn’t know his sacramental theology and the other committee members were embarrassed.

    I grew up a lot that day.

    1. Great story. I think I am still living a bit in the naive world where I would be shocked to learn that.

  3. I’ve been through DCom twice now, for certification and for continuance … I have yet to be even asked about Jesus in conversations, though I did extensively in my essays. No questions of the sacraments either, which I’d heard had been a stumbling block to many. Very few questions on theology at all, actually! I will say that both settings have been very encouraging, focusing on self care. Maybe I have more warning signs there than in the theological realms. 🙂

  4. The most memorable question I was asked was actually pretty shocking. The year was 1976, and I was applying for probationary membership and deacons orders. It was quite intimidating be interviewed by an ALL male BOOM. I took the standard battery of psychological tests, and received a print out of the results comparing my answers to “all other men applying for the ministry”. I pretty much just laughed that off and disregarded it. But when I was actually being interviewed, someone asked me, “Don’t you really want to become a nun?” I was shocked by that question and handled it badly. Instead of laughing it off, I stumbled a bit and said, “No, I don’t.I am called to preach the Gospel.” I was deferred that time, but I think it was due more to my youth and very limited experience in church leadership. By the next year, I had experience as a summer youth minister, I had preached several times, and I was better prepared to serve as a pastor. I was approved without a hitch the second time around.

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