Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ministry- "Being Called- Inward and Outward"

Today I would like to begin a conversation about ministry.  Over the next few weeks I would like to share my thoughts on numerous and different aspects of ministry in the life of the church.  This blog is not specifically addressing any one situation or person.  Over the past few weeks I have talked with church members and other clergy, several questions about call continue to rise in how we encourage and how we discover new clergy.  Our summer camp this year is all about call to ministry.  Step one is talking about call to ministry.  Throughout the Bible God calls people into ministry.  Whether it be Moses, Jeremiah or John, people are called.  Being called by God to ministry is a powerful and emotional experience.  For me, a call to ministry is humbling, but also, inspiring.  When called, we have to remember that it's not about us.  It is about what God will do through us.  Is everyone called to ordained ministry? No.  If you feel called I encourage you to ask yourself a few questions-- Have you learned to pray?  Are worship, the sacraments and Scripture deeply ingrained in your life today?  There are numerous other questions that arise as well, but those are few that begin the conversation.  Another would center around how I react to situations.  Specifically, how do I deal with adversity or frustrating situations?  If anger is the first place you go, then maybe you should reconsider where you are being called.  As you look at your life and what could be, the inward call is then moved to what is known as the outward call.  Outward call would be how others confirm or receive your understanding of call.
If you feel called it is difficult to keep it in.  We have a strong desire to share it.  Some fight their call for YEARS.  Only after someone else recognizes something in them do they respond.  The outward call is confirmed by the church, the Body of Christ.  In the United Methodist Church to confirm an outward call, we have several excellent layers of leadership that help.  We find those leaders in the local church, the district, the conference and ultimately, with our Bishops.  Both clergy and laity are deeply involved in this process.  The process of moving forward with an outward call is clearly outlined by our General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.  A call to ministry is inwardly experienced, and outwardly confirmed.  For the United Methodist Church, both are needed to move forward toward clergy service.  For more answers about inward and outward call, I recommend reading Thomas Oden's book Pastoral Theology.
If you feel called to ministry and have done nothing with it, what are you waiting for?  God calls leaders for a reason.  God needs faithful and loving people to lead the church.  Prayerfully consider taking the next step if you are called.  Let others around you know what you are considering in.  Don't keep it in.  Let love and faith be your guides.  Go in peace and go with God.

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