Wednesday, July 3, 2013

#CTCGetLicensed #NoRegrets

So, here I am in the midst of the Central Texas Conference's month long take on licensing school.

You heard me right.  A.  Month.  Long.

In the middle of the summer, I'm spending three Saturdays and then five days in residency learning how to become a licensed local pastor for the UMC.  This family man was less than excited at the proposition of this long run through class.  I'm all about getting things done, and the old model of an eight to nine day, all day stretch sounded really appealing to me.  Would that have been tough?  Yes.  But ... Yeah.  Missing many Saturdays in the middle of the summer ... Not exciting.

I started this thing in quite the funk - even in the midst of knowing I'm called to do it.  Ever been there?

But then a few days before this venture was supposed to start, with a 4:30am wake-up call so I could make it to Waco by 8am, our conference BOM Coordinator sent out the list of my fellow attendees.  And that's when I started to get excited.  Because a lot of my friends were going.

While most of us weren't excited about having to make a trek bright and early on a Saturday morning, as we arrived together for our first day of class together, we realized that while we were here to be schooled, we were also here to build relationships.  Which is my favorite part of any ministry venture.

Our table quickly grew together as the first day went on, and realizing that the Twitter conversation was lagging, we decided to hash tag the proceedings - #ctcgetlicensed.  Because that's how we roll.  While things got silly, we had some really powerful speakers come our way and needed a way to preserve what we felt was important.

I get jazzed off community building.  Our licensing school has been set up in such a way that we're working together as candidates to lift each other up.  There are many other young candidates for ministry, like myself that I've come to know over the last year. But on the flip side, there are many Lay Supply Pastors serving small, part-time charges in the conference.  You don't see a lot of them around - they don't have a huge standing in the conference, because they work part-time hours for what a lot of people would consider tiny churches.

I myself find these Pastors (as they are, indeed) an inspiration.  Most of them have a full time job else where to really pay the bills.  On the weekends and during the week they serve sometimes two charges across towns and regions.  These Pastors are likely the only staff for their churches of a few to 40 or 50 people.  And you know what?  These folks may just be the life-blood of the conference.  Just think about the work they do.  And a lot of them have already been doing this work for months.  I come to find that the new schedule for licensing school, this spreading out of things, is actually for folks like them.  I can take nine days and call call it work - I'm not that important yet at my job, I will be one of four clergy on staff when I finish up school.  For these ladies and gentlemen, they are their church's person.  Amazing.

So I'm loving licensing school.  It's not a crazy lot of new information.  But it's a lot of old friends and new ones.

In a goofy daze on the first day due to a lack of sleep and not enough coffee, my hash-tag-creating table jumped on the #noregrets train with regard to just about anything we could think of at the time.

What I've learned over the last couple of weeks of licensing school is that it's not just a step on the path.  For many, being licensed is the final step in their call as pastors, for the rest of us it's part of the process in heading towards Elder.  But for all of us it's an important stop on the way to take stock of the gifts that God has given us - namely the communities in which we serve and the community we're building with one another as we journey together over the next several weeks.

So, #ctcgetlicensed.  #NOREGRETS.