Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Call to Ministry

I'm not normally one to rant, but I've been hearing something over and over again lately that's starting to bother me a great deal.

My call to ordained ministry is constantly referred to as my 'call to ministry'.  This language has been directed at me consistently from many directions, from clergy to the very forms I've filled out to apply for this next step in my call.

Why does this bother me?

Because I was called to ministry a full decade ago, it just wasn't to ordination.  But nonetheless, I was called to ministry as a worship leader.  It wasn't until just recently that I felt called to a new type of ministry: that of the ordained.  So, I take a little offense at the call to ordination as my 'call to ministry', as if I've finally arrived in the most exclusive and best group.  I have an Assistant Worship Minister that works for me.  Minister is part of his title and ministry is what he does.  Same goes for our Childrens Minister and our Youth Minister, none of whom are ordained but all are called to ministry.

As a current lay person, I feel the language being used denigrates the ministerial work I've already done - and the great work of all laity.

It's also contrary to the United Methodist understanding of the Christian call to ministry.

From the United Methodist Book of Discipline, Part III, Section II - The Ministry of All Christians:
¶ 125: The Heart of Christian Ministry - The heart of Christian ministry is Christ's ministry of outreaching love.  Christian ministry is the expression of the mind and mission of Christ by a community of Christians that demonstrates a common life of gratitude and devotion, witness and service, celebration and discipleship.  All Christians are called through their baptism to this ministry of servanthood in the world to the glory of God and for human fulfillment.  The forms of this ministry are diverse in locale, in interest, and in denominational accent, yet always catholic in spirit and in outreach.
When we take on the name "Christian", we also take on the title of Minister in the UMC.  I remember in the bulletin of my home church growing up, seeing the first line of the staff listing on the back: Ministers - Every member of the congregation!

Clergy are called to walk hand in hand with the laity.  To only refer to the call to clergy as the call to ministry further divides up the kingdom and fosters a very consistent problem we have in the local church - that the clergy are the only ones there to work.

End of rant.  For now!