June 27, 2017

They Bought Me, and I’m Glad

Ordination: I was ordained to the Gospel ministry by a Southern Baptist congregation in 1980, but you won’t hear me have a lot to say about ordination. I believe in it, but in a minimalist kind of way. I don’t believe in titles. (Not calling someone Father or Reverend seems like a can’t-miss teaching of Jesus.) I don’t want a ministerial discount on my shoes or to be authorized to perform weddings. The clergy-laity distinction doesn’t seem very helpful to me, except when absolutely necessary.

I do believe that congregations are commanded in scripture to set aside their leaders and I see the wisdom in commending that ordination to other congregations as a reason to consider a man worthy of recommendation. Of course, I wish my tradition took some aspects of ordination more seriously, as we are famous for laying hands on teenagers and people who don’t understand the Gospel at all.

But there’s one aspect of ordination I really do appreciate on a very personal level. When a congregation ordains you, they are setting you aside to serve them, yes. But they are also saying, “He belongs to us. We bought him, and until he proves himself unworthy of our confidence, he’s ours. Even when he leaves, he can still come back and know we signed his papers.”

My uncle was a pastor for almost fifty years, and he built one of the largest churches in our community in his day. But I remember that he always talked about his first church- the church that ordained him- as special. He didn’t brag about the big church when he needed to remember who he was; he recalled the country people who “bought” him as a young pastor, and took on the task of being his first church.

Years later, I was speaking in the area and some of the people from that church were present at the meeting. When I mentioned my uncle- whom I look like- many of them came up to me and excitedly told me about the love for my uncle.

Because of recent events, I need to know that someone out there still believes in me and my ministry. There are people I love who’ve always supported me who have moved on to other churches and beliefs. There are people who have trusted my preaching for years who want me to sound more like an Oprah rally or more like an angry fundamentalist. There are folks who have just noted that I’m pretty old and don’t show movie clips like I’m supposed to.

Because of where I live and the kind of preaching that’s wanted in mountain churches, requests for pulpit supply are almost non-existent. The preaching that I am paid to do is preaching for young people who, for the most part, are required to be present and would be happy to be elsewhere doing anything rather than listen to me. I love them, they respect me and it’s a good ministry, but you always know they would prefer puppets.

So today, my ordination saved me from some of the rising discouragement. I’ve been going to the little Baptist church next door for the last few weeks. Going by myself and sitting alone, which is very hard. I go and pray for whatever is going on and whatever is talked about, prayed for or preached on. It’s one of those times that I’m mostly there to remember that I am part of the people of God, and we’re on pilgrimage- going forward, foibles and all- together.

I arrived today and said hello to the pastor on the way in. He stopped and called me back to where he was standing. He wanted to know if I would preach for him next week.

It’s not the biggest deal in the world, but for me, today, it works to lift me up a little higher.

Our pastor has many preachers in his congregation to ask to preach when he is gone. He knows what’s going on in my life, and he’s aware that my stock is down a bit around here. He was choosing to encourage me.

When I preach next week, most of those who will be present will be praying for me for various reasons. While I will bring the Word, I’m expecting that I will be the one who is encouraged and helped the most.

Today, my ordination reminded me that I belong to God’s particular people, and they aren’t giving up on me. They are keeping their promise when they bought me, and they are picking me up when the road has gotten almost too steep to walk with any joy.

Most of life’s discouragements are small, and some of the largest ones are disguised as the small ones. But most of God’s encouragements look very small, too. But they aren’t. Those encouragements can be as big as the love of God itself, and when they fit exactly what you are facing, they are sweet indeed.

Comments

  1. Dood, if you’re ever in Philly you’ll have a place to preach.

    Of course, you’ll be preaching to a good portion of adults who are in worship for similar reasons as the teens you often find yourself preaching to – but, mixed in there are some folks who, gasp, actually listen.

    Seriously, I could always use the breather and folks here would appreciate you.

  2. >”(Not calling someone Father or Reverend seems like a can’t-miss teaching of Jesus.)”

    Then you might be surprised to learn that up until about 1800 Baptists called their pastors “Father”. They also used the honorific for male missionaries.

    Catholic priests of the time were called “Mister” or “Don”, but not “Father”.

    Protestants and Catholics flip-flopped on honorifics as a result of Irish Catholic migration. The Irish called all priests “Father”.

    It only took a few generations and new polemic “call no man father”, and the change was complete.

    Nonetheless, none of the Reformers, nor early Baptists, had any problem with referring to ministers as “Father”.

    You might wish to rethink what constitutes a “can’t-miss teaching”.

    God bless…

    +Timothy

  3. Michael-

    Very well said, I read your site regularly and I sympathize with much of your journey, I am on one of my own and while each is unique, believers have a lot to share. I am a minister but without a church, and have been for about 4 months….no churches around are ones I want to go to….so I am struggling. It is nice to hear of your struggle (not that it’s nice to struggle!) and to find hope in it….if you wrote a book about your journey, I would buy it.

  4. OK Timothy. You get to put your money where your mouth is. One of my mentors is one of the top ten Church historians in America. Harvard trained. Dean of a major interdenominational school. Expert in the Radical Reformation.

    You need to come up with primary source documentation (Baptists, not Catholic). for your claim that Baptists called their ministers Father at any time.

    I’m saying that claim is totally false.

    My verifying source is an email away.

    Waiting.

  5. Oh….and by the way, in the unlikely event that you are correct, those people were all wrong in what they were doing.

    It’s a can’t miss. “Call no man Father” is so plain only certain Christians could figure out how to ignore it.

  6. You know, it is incredibly disappointing to see what some people are waiting to jump on in a blog post, no matter what the post is about. How do people find any post in the world that takes a modestly critical stance in a single sentence toward some minor thing they believe? It’s weird.

  7. In case Timothy doesn’t make it back. Here is his source.

  8. I’ll yield the point. Obviously not a part of my Southern culture, and of the four reasons cited, none amount to calling ministers Father as a ministerial title.

    As I said, I’ll admit to being wrong on that point, but it doesn’t change my point. Jesus said don’t do it. Same with calling ministers priests, or reverends, or lots of other titles.

  9. Back on topic – I have been wondering if you and your wife might find mutually satisfactory places to minister up in Canada. We have a strong Roman Catholic presence, and a lot of evangelical/protestant churches who probably wouldn’t be as hung up about your wife not being evangelical/protestant. The Baptist convention of Ontario and Quebec might be a good fit.

    I know that I for one would love to hear you preach on a regular basis!

  10. It will be interesting to preach next week. I enjoyed my Cornerstone Seminars, but my wife’s conversion to Roman Catholicism has pretty much demolished my confidence that I have anything to say. I know I’ll be OK, but the desire to preach has almost been erased.

  11. It seems like I read a couple of your sermons every week!

  12. “iMonk
    …but my wife’s conversion to Roman Catholicism has pretty much demolished my confidence that I have anything to say. I know I’ll be OK, but the desire to preach has almost been erased.”

    huh? wha?! I’m still kinda new around here, but after reading through your posts, listening to the IMR podcasts and CCA I don’t see a reasonable reason for a wrecked confidence. (but I’ve been known to be cluless and naive at times)

    Could you simply substitute the pulpit microphone for the one you use when making the podcasts and just pretend your doing an exclusive IMR LIVE! stream podcast 🙂

  13. “It seems like I read a couple of your sermons every week!”

    Amen.

  14. I’m glad to hear you have an opportunity to preach to your congregation this coming Sunday. You’ll be in my prayers.

    It really is no surprise that your comment about “call no man Father” caused some angry responses. You might think it is a clear Biblical doctrine, but nobody ever seemed to think of it until it appeared as a useful tool for attacking Irish-Catholics. Dubbing it a ‘can’t-miss teaching’ is, as I’m sure you can see, divisive and hurtful to many due to it’s historic usages. I myself was raised to think the same way about the issue, but in the end it really isn’t so clear cut as you made it out to be in your original post.

    Pax vobiscum,
    Sam Urfer

  15. Michael:

    We don’t know each other. I am an Indian Christian, living in Chennai, S. India. I have read some of your posts, and have admired your honesty and vulnerability. In the due course, I developed a great deal of respect for you. I have also followed some of the difficult things you have been through. Please allow me to let me know that I believe in you.

    PS: Sorry for naming my blog site after your’s. I should have checked with you prior to the naming. Hope you don’t mind it!?

  16. I second the motion for you to come up and preach in Canada. This site has ministered to me considerably over the past few months and I would welcome the opportunity to hear you preach.

  17. Michael,

    Jesus was using a hyberbole in Matthew 23:9. The prior passages are a warning to persons not to seek out titles like the pahrisees do that are not deserved. Otherwise, how can Paul state that he(Paul) is their spiritual father in 1Cor 4:14-16

    I am not trying to make you feel ashamed. I am writing this to give you a warning as my own dear children.15 For though you may have ten thousand teachers in Christ, you do not have many fathers. Through the Good News I became your father in Christ Jesus,16 so I beg you, please follow my example.

  18. I should add that the come to Canada comment was not an off the cuff comment, but something that I had been thinking about for several weeks. I do think you could find a good ministry fit up here for both you and your wife. (By the way, I love her work with dramas and children’s sermons/object lessons.)

  19. Steve Rowe says:

    One more vote for you emigration to Canada!. I can easily see him teaching at any number of our Toronto schools. I think the Institue for Christian Studies would be a good fit but you might also like Wycliffe Collage (at UofT) or Tyndale. Up here you would be considered a conservative!

  20. Calling someone Father as an adjective and calling someone Father as a formal religious title are two different things.

  21. Michael,

    Just out of curiosity, what are you preaching on?

  22. Not completely. Formal titles are a subset of adjectives, but that’s nitpicking.

    The notes in my RSV gloss this verse thusly: “do not use the title without reference to God’s universal fatherhood”. Reading the passage as a whole, and logically applying the typical Baptist exegesis, calling you Mr. Spencer would be just as objectionable, for we have no master but Him in Heaven.

    For most of my life, I would have eagerly agreed with you on this. After I felt the Holy Spirit moving me towards the Catholic Church, this is one of the first things I looked into to logically prove that the Catholic Church is not Scripturally based, and thus allow me to shrug off the urging of the Spirit. This exegesis was pretty easily torn to shreds by Catholic apologists, and never very well defended by Protestant writers that I could find.

    It doesn’t particularly bother me that you hold to it, as it is a very strongly ingrained Baptist presupposition as I well remember. I just want you to understand that as far as I can see the vast, vast majority of Christians who ever studied the Bible do not agree on this interpretation of the passage, any more than they think that a man who has lustful thoughts should pluck out his eyes or castrate himself (though Origen did…). Indeed, it practically never seemed to occur to readers of the Scriptures until the 19th century, and that has more to do with fear and bigotry than with advances in hermeneutics. So again, the part that raises objection is “can’t miss teaching”, as many people more well read in the Scripture than you or I never, who lived powerful witness to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, never considered it that way.

    C. S. Lewis once argued that reading old books is helpful to uncover the presuppositions of our own age and help us to overcome them. Proper Biblical exegesis demands we be able to think beyond the parochial bounds of our present cultural presuppositions. I, for one, find it hard to accept that the entire Christian scholarly tradition failed to notice an essential teaching of Jesus contained in the book they painstakingly copied out by hand for over a thousand years, but 20th century American Evangelicals happened to get it right. YMMV.

    Si vales valeo,
    Sam Urfer

  23. This post has wandered so far from its original intention that its embarrassing to continue the conversation. You brothers who believe Jesus taught his disciples to call their pastors “priests” and “Father,” God bless you. It’s very respectful.

  24. Seven Meditations: I haven’t decided. Possible may deal with the “Where is Jesus?” stuff I’m writing at Jesus Shaped Spirituality, or I may talk about Jesus’ words that he came to bring division and fire.

  25. >I just want you to understand that as far as I can see the vast, vast majority of Christians who ever studied the Bible do not agree on this interpretation of the passage…

    Sam: If you want me to believe that men are commanded by Jesus to be called “priest” and “father” because some men somewhere are called priest and father, you’re going to need something other than the usual rhetorical line that “Millions of people have read this and concluded…..”

    If you want to explain RCC reasoning on issues like this, just say the church teaches us that this is what scripture means, and then you’ll have my attention. Telling me that I can’t read the Bible because of Protestant presuppositions is just another example of the anti-Protestant rhetoric that has become too common on here.

    Telling me I can’t see the truth because of my presuppositions, while you have been gloriously delivered from any biases save the truth of the church’s teaching doesn’t come off as anything other than what it is.

  26. I hope that this can kind of get us back on topic. I find it real interesting because of my own up-bringing and view of how congregations view the “haves” (those ordained), and the “have-nots” (laymen).

    First of all, you gave me a very different view of why a “pastor” would want to be one. Thanks for that. However, you also stated…

    “Today, my ordination reminded me that I belong to God’s particular people, and they aren’t giving up on me. ”

    My question is simple. Why don’t we do this to 80% of the congregation. Part of the emergent/missional movement is to get everyone involved rather than doing the haves/have-nots bit. Wouldn’t it help everyone to know that they belong and that people aren’t giving up on them even when things aren’t going specifically well?

    I stopped attending a church last August because I cannot find one that is relevant to our world and isn’t just focused on it’s mortgage and/or payroll. I do feel like a bit of an outcast but more like I am doing the right thing. Discouraging, but a bit freeing all at the same time.

    In some early years and specific churches I was offended to find that the congregation and pastors considered the pastors “called” and the rest of us along for the ride. I realized that I am called to do what I do and to be ready to share Jesus with people all the time. Most pastors don’t like me because I consider myself equal to them.

    Recently, I was asked to perform a wedding for a young man I have known since he was 2. In order to sign the license, I had to be ordained and so I paid my 29.95 and poof, I was Pastor Jeff. After playing this role at the wedding, I found myself realizing that I really had played a significant part in his life over the years.

    After this experience as “Pastor Jeff”, I would have to say that I felt a little more like I really belonged because of this experience.

    It is encouraging but still needs to be processed more.

  27. just curious, but does the church you will be preaching at offer their sermons via mp3? Ours does, which makes it helpful if I happen to miss a Sunday.

  28. I put most of my sermons on mp3 to protect myself in case someone accuses me of saying something inappropriate. When I speak in a church, as I will this Sunday, I will make the mp3 and I usually post it. (See the London Presby category)

    This is a country church that is attended by about 75 of our staff and their families, plus a few community people.

    Jeff: Remember St. Francis- Go to the Poor. There are plenty of poor churches without a mortgage.

  29. Black Angus says:

    Michael,

    Thanks for the reminder of the simple significance of ordination. I can still remember the ache in my legs from kneeling so long in the ordination prayer and the weight of all the hands on my shoulders and head.
    But more than that I remember it as the day that I received an assurance that this going-into-pastoral-ministry-thing was not just my own idea. My brothers and sisters also recognised God’s setting me apart for that work.
    I’m still at the church I was ordained in and my ordination reminds me that I can’t just cut and run if things get tough. Like you say, they bought me! I also feel it’s a bit like a marriage. The church and I made promises to each other and I’m not prepared to abandon those promises just because I’d like a change of scenery.

    And, for what it’s worth I can’t read Matthew 23:8 – 10 and not see its obvious application. It’s can’t miss to me.

  30. *sigh*

    Never mind.

    Peace be with you, Michael. I hope and pray your sermon goes well on Sunday.

  31. You have such a deep calling to ministry, Michael. I am glad for your sake that they have asked you to preach, and I believe they’ll be glad, too.

  32. Let me see, is Sam Urfer giving a historical over view of scripture up against a “solo”, bible in a bubble, view of scripture?
    Trying to get a better handle on this.

  33. Alright, I just read your post on the Boar’s Head Tavern, and I feel I need to clear a few things up, even though I had intended to leave this alone.

    First of all, I’d like to apologize if I have offended you in any way. It was not my intention to upset you or impugn your character, merely to highlight what I see as an error. I do not claim to have no presuppositions, as I understand that nobody is free of them. I make no claims to be better or superior to you in any way, as we are all feeling our way through this valley of tears, working out our salvation in fear and trembling. If I gave the impression that I am somehow better than you, I apologize most abjectly, for I am but a sinner.

    I beg you to please not take anything I say in what follows in a negative sense, but rather to view it through the lens of charity. The internet is a horrible way to communicate on emotional topics without accidentally giving offense, and I apologize in advance for anything I say that might be unpleasing to you.

    I’m really not sure where you get the idea that I said Jesus commanded priests to be called Father, as the Catholic Church does not teach this, and never has. Catholic priests are not even called Father outside the Anglosphere, but rather go by whatever the local equivalent of Mister happens to be, as outlined in the article Michael Bell posted. As for the English word ‘priest’, it happens to be derived from the Greek word Presbyter, which has Scriptural warrant at any rate. Additionally, if we take this passage literally, nobody should take the title ‘Doctor’ considering that it shares it’s meaning with ‘Rabbi’. The problem with the innovative modern exegesis of this passage is that if evenly applied, it soon descends into ridiculousness, such as not calling my own biological Father ‘Father’.

    Now, to respond to your bullet points:

    -It’s quite likely that Jesus commanded his ministers to be called “Fathers” right back to the Apostles.

    Considering that the Catholic Church has no such hard and fast rule, and most Catholic priests are not called Father at all, I’d disagree most strenuously with this characterization, as I said absolutely no such thing. As outlined in the article Michael Bell posted, priests in most languages are referred to normally as Monsignor, Monsieur, Dom, or in traditional English, Mister. Father is normally reserved for leaders in religious communities. It’s a quirk introduced by Irish speakers into English parlance. So in the 19th century, Catholic priest John Doe was called Mister Doe, while Baptist minister John Smith was Father Smith. Such are the ironies of history.

    -Yes, Paul says he is a spiritual father to them. It’s an adjectival description. Not what Jesus was talking about. He also says he’s been a mother. Should we go there?

    And when a Catholic priest is called Father, it is also an adjective, so I agree with you here.

    -Yes, Jesus was using hyperbole, but in the negative. That doesn’t mean the opposite was a command.

    And the Catholic Church does not have a hard and fast rule as to priest’s titles, as can be seen from the fact that different languages use different words, so I agree with you.

    -Yes, some Baptists did it in an honorific way. I’m pretty sure some other Baptists pointed out the verse in question and eventually, they quit. Now he’s “Brother” Billy Bob.

    Replace ‘some’ with ‘all’, including the most right-wing Biblical Literalists as outlined in the article linked by Michael Bell, then sure.

    -Yes. millions of people read that verse and say it’s OK to call their ministers “Father,” to which I say millions of people are frequently wrong.

    This is very true, I agree. I’m not invoking nameless millions of Papist automatons, however, but the testimony of the Christian Saints throughout the centuries such as St. Augustine, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Bonaventure, St. Basil, St. Jerome, St. Dominic, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Clement of Rome, St. Paul, etc., who did not hold to this view.

    I do not even need to go to Orthodox or Catholic Saints for this, however. John Calvin, Martin Luther, John Wesley, and every Protestant thinker before the 19th century had the same reading of this passage of Scripture as the Catholic and Orthodox. Using purely Protestant methodology and exegesis, with no resort to the Magisterial authority of the Pope or Ecumenical Councils, the innovative modern exegesis does not hold up, which is why nobody ever held to it before modern times, aside from perhaps the radical “let’s kill all the rich people” groups that occasionally popped up.

    -And the idea that Jesus endorsed this is completely unprovable from scripture.

    So? It can’t be proven from Scripture that Jesus didn’t really mean we should castrate ourselves for lustful thoughts, but I for one prefer the traditional exegesis of that passage.

    The Protestant brain at work. It’s small and narrow, I know, but going the other direction simply leaves us with anything and everything. Why shouldn’t we be this conservative when Jesus makes a plain negative command? What’s the virtue in using tradition, etc to find a way around it? I actually LIKE that aspect of Protestantism a lot.

    In all respect, Michael, my contention is that there is nothing conservative about holding to an innovative doctrine of the 19th century over and above the exegesis of the Reformers, the Scholastics, the Desert Fathers (!), and the Church Fathers (!!). That’s the opposite of conservative in every way. And as I’m trying to make clear, I don’t see it as a plain negative command, and neither do most Christians present and historical. That doesn’t mean I am right, as it is always possible that I am wrong, but it does say it might not be so clear or plain as all that.

    I in no way mean to denigrate you as a “small and narrow” Protestant, but merely seek to point to what I see as an error in the reasoning of a Christian brother, who as you yourself said, Jesus died for. If I cause offense, I plead forgiveness, as I am a callow youth filled with zeal.

    I try to be charitable, but I am a sinner, and as such fail constantly. The only reason I post here is out of respect for you. If I did not respect your thoughts and experiences, I wouldn’t even read this blog, let alone respond.

    May the grace and peace of the risen Lord Jesus Christ be with you, now and always, and may He lead you into everlasting glory,
    Sam Urfer

  34. Sam:

    I’ll link this comment at the BHT.

    I’ll also officially retract any connection with Jesus, as you’ve made it clear that you didn’t imply anything of the sort. (I”m used to people telling me that Jesus baptized infants, so you’ll have to forgive me.)

    Your points about the origin and use of this title are gracious and well made. I appreciate them and the time you took to express them.

    I’ll confess to a bit of frustration that what I hoped would be a discussion of ordination turned into Protestant-Catholic conversation #578. But that just seems to be the way it is.

    I will note that in your response you omitted my citation of Luther’s famous words of protestant conservatism, which provide the context for what I mean by the Protestant “mind,” and is a necessary decision every Protestant has to make these days.

    My wife’s priest is “Father” Charles. There’s nothing else I could call him that would make sense in our experience with him. To all who know him, he’s Father.

    Doctor as a title of theological distinction in the church should most certainly be eliminated.

    I think it bears saying that on the day tradition or practice is corrected by scripture, that may be an innovation, but it also conservative of the truth.

    Again, thanks for the gracious reply. I will see that it is read over there.

    Peace

    MS

  35. Getting back on topic with a response to Jeff.

    Ministry can be a very difficult thing. It is why Michael Spencer is teaching at a school, and not at a church. It is why I work as a web developer and not as a Pastor as I trained to do. I have numerous friends who have left full time ministry because their calling was not strong enough to withstand the difficulties that came with it. One friend just resigned from his church because of a confidence vote of 54%. He has gone onto a new church, but if this one does not go well I can see him leaving the ministry as well.

    That is not to say that as a lay person I am not involved in my church. Over the past few years I have been an Elder, Steering committee member, member of a pastoral search commitee (3 times), Sunday School Teacher, Worship leader, and Youth group leader. As a lay person, I can do just about anything I want and get away with it. (“Oh, that’s just Mike, being Mike!”) The fact remains is that there are some very ungodly people in our churches who look to criticize the Pastor (especially a youth Pastor or a Pastor instituting change) with every chance that they have.

    You have to be a very special person with a very special calling to be able to say to yourself every morning, “God has placed me here to lead these people, and despite the hurt that I will encounter I will continue to do his will.” Getting a $29.95 ordination from a Cracker Jacks box will not prepare you for that.

    Incidentally, the Church I am now at (as a lay person) would be a great place to be a Pastor. So please don’t take my comments as being indicative of every place of ministry, including my current one.

  36. God bless you Sam. Fantastic response.

  37. I don’t know if we are really getting this back on topic or not, But it does seem that we are going to discuss ordination rather than denominationalism. Please don’t read into my comments that I am not willing to openly discuss this. I am trying to figure out how best to articulate what I think God is trying to teach me so that I can be the best at promoting the Kingdom as possible.

    My premise is that ordination as it is used today isn’t Biblical and that the way we use it is not healthy for the ordained and the non-ordained. I wouldn’t say that it is wrong but rather that it is given too much credence and causes most to either think too highly of themselves or to sit on the sidelines.

    You associate a “calling” to “ordination” and then to “full time ministry”. This is where I have trouble. The Bible isn’t all that clear on the ordination issue. Jesus “ordained” non-trained men to the work of “ministry” but he didn’t call it ordination. He merely said “follow me”. Evangelicals today think that you have to be called to be ordained, so if you aren’t ordained then you aren’t called and so you can just go to your secular work, teach a Sunday school class or something else that is for a simpleton.

    Wikipedia defines ministry as “activity by Christians to spread or express their faith”. It seems to me that the Bible calls ALL Christians to this ministry.

    We get the concept of pastor from Ephesians 4 where it reads “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” This reads that the group of believers work together to find new Christians that grow the body of Christ. Then note… All of us get the whole measure of the fullness. Not just the Pastors with the special calling. We put too much emphasis and pressure on one person and things fall apart.

    Your very first sentence is “Ministry can be a very difficult thing.”. What you are really referring to is “running a church or leading a congregation”… not necessarily ministry.

    Regarding your comment “You have to be a very special person with a very special calling to be able to say to yourself every morning, “God has placed me here to lead these people, and despite the hurt that I will encounter I will continue to do his will.” Getting a $29.95 ordination from a Cracker Jacks box will not prepare you for that.””

    My largest wounds come from church organizations and their leaders. However, I have a very special calling because every morning I get up and say “God has placed me here with His ministry as my mission. Despite the hurt that I will encounter I will continue to do his will.” I think that my original comments were pointing out that God will prepare us all for that if we will let Him. Instead, we sit back and think that since we are just lay people we aren’t ready/prepared/called to join the mission.

    Is it possible that we have re-defined these words to a point that they are not what God intended and that is why you think that if you aren’t a “pastor” then you are just a lay person that doesn’t have a special calling? You said it yourself if you read between the lines. You don’t think that you or iMonk have a “Very special calling” and are therefore doing “less important” work. You guys have everything you need to be giants in The Ministry… without your training and/or ordination.

    In the original post it said ““Today, my ordination reminded me that I belong to God’s particular people, and they aren’t giving up on me. ”. I think this would be better said as “Today, my community of believers reminded me that I belong to God’s particular people, and they aren’t giving up on me.”. This fits the model of The Church than gathers together to encourage one another on toward love and good deeds.

  38. To be rid of any concept of ordination is going to require major deconstruction in the pastoral epistles. Paul says that the Timothy was the subject of setting aside by a presbytery.

    WHile the contemporary ministry is a mess, the New Testament does teach that God’s people have specific pastors and teachers, set aside for those purposes.

  39. iMonk…

    Hmmm. I don’t think that I am saying that we should be “rid of any concept of ordination”. I am just saying that we need to be careful with it’s use. I am not the great writer that you are.

    Where did Paul say that Tim was set up as a “pastor”?

    I agree that God’s people have specific roles as pastors and teachers… I don’t really see the “set aside” bit as we define it today. Didn’t all of the disciples have jobs and refused to “depend” on people for their sustenance?

    20 years ago a neighbor/friend died in a car accident. We weren’t real close but my wife and I then found ourselves caring for his widow and 4 and 6 year old. That 4 year old is the young man that I married last week. I have been a pastor to them over the years even though I don’t have the blessing/ordination of any organization. I do think that I have had it from God and would have been much better if my community of believers had given me that kind of encouragement. My “cracker jacks” ordination just allows me to have the state recognize me as the person that joined them together.

    I don’t mean to take away from what you have experienced as an ordained guy… I just know that people see things through their paradigms and therefore live the “have/have not” shaped spirituality rather than a Jesus shaped one. Most people could really use this type of encouragement so that they will join the mission rather than expecting so much of their “pastor”.

    I am new to your blogs and I really enjoy how God has put you together and then given you this format so that we can share together. This is really cool. Let me know if I am not helping the point of this post and/or tell me to stop writing and I will.

  40. Thanks for the response

    I’m not going to go down the road of deconstructing the Pastoral epistles and the Pauline letters so there are no pastors set aside to shepherd and teach. I absolutely agree and that the modern ministry and the New Testament ministry are likely quite far apart, but verse after verse has to be deconstructed to say that elders are not doing the work described as set aside leaders of some kind.

    >I Tim 4:13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

    Set aside by a council of elders.
    Gift
    Public reading
    exhortation
    teaching
    Hearers
    Responsible for teaching

    This isn’t the modern CEO of the megachurch, but it is the pastoral ministry described in the later New Testament.

    I also believe in the priestly ministry of all God’s people to one another and to the world. We are ministers, shepherds, mentors and teachers to one another.

    peace’

    MS

  41. This is great! I get hung up on the fact that what we currently call a pastor or as you put it “the CEO of a mega church” isn’t in the new testament. I also think that the “pastor” of a small church that is expecting him to be everything to the church isn’t in the NT either.

    When you said, “I also believe in the priestly ministry of all God’s people to one another and to the world. We are ministers, shepherds, mentors and teachers to one another.” I breathed a big sigh. I agree completely.

    Now, let’s get back on the topic of ordination. If we agree that all Christians are to be ministers to one another then what is the point of ordination other than to separate some from everyone else? I should probably ask… Is this the original topic? I think that you stated that ordination was great and I started down the why not all path…

    It seems that some are saying that ALL can become Christians. Only those with an associates degree can be baptized. Those with Bachelors can be elders and then those with an MDIV can be ordained.

    I want to be in a community that is true to what Jesus wanted. We are all in it together and serve out the various roles and learn to have unity and encouragement. This discussion probably needs to be in the “What Will It Be For The Institution? Blind Loyalty or Naive Criticism?” topic.

  42. “Ordination” isn’t a NT word. However, being set aside for leadership is a NT comment. Paul told Titus to do it for every church.

    And I Tim is plain:

    >>I Tim 4:13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

    We can’t say that God has appointed us to ministry solo. A call to ministry in the church is confirmed by the church and its leaders. That’s what we read about in I Tim 4.

    peace

    MS

  43. I think that you can also add in the laying on of hands of Paul and Barnabas as being in a similar vein to that of Timothy.

    Acts 13: 1In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

    Note that there were 5 who were prophesying and teaching, but only two were called to special work.

  44. Greetings, Michael! Sorry for the delay in returning. The family switched over to a new Vista PC and the Comcast high speed has been intermittent since. Seems to be in the lines. I suspect the recent lightening storm got an amp. My thanks to E.C. for posting the link to my source.

    >”it is incredibly disappointing to see what some people are waiting to jump on in a blog post, no matter what the post is about.”

    Sorry you felt “disappointed” as I actually was not waiting to jump on a blog post. I read your blog every weekend. I’ve been a fan for several years now. I’ve also been studying Baptist history and had just learned of the “father” quirk a day or two before and had just posted about the quirk on my own blog. When I saw your statement and knowing that you are Baptist, I thought you might like to know a trivial bit of Baptist history. I apologize if I led the discussion astray as that was not my intent.

    BTW, another bit of Baptist historical trivia related to your tile “They bought me” is that for the first 200 years of American history, Baptist ministers were unpaid. Baptist ministers practiced a secular vocation and volunteered as ministers.

    God bless…

    +Timothy

  45. Интересный пост, спасибо. Меня интересует только вопрос – будет ли продолжение? 🙂