Wednesday, June 23, 2010
The Elder has a fourfold ministry focus- Word, Order, Sacrament, Service
The Deacon has a twofold ministry focus- Word, Service.
Elders, like local pastors, preach the word, order the life of the church, administer the sacraments and live out their calling in servant leadership.
Deacons live out their calling in specialized ministries sharing the Word and living a life of servant leadership.
Each one of these Orders have a specific path to ordination. It begins with an inward call, then shared through and outward call. After consultation with their local pastor and District Superintendent (and a few other steps), the person following a call is assigned a mentor to help them discern their call. The process to ordination can last a few years, or a decade, if not more. Some might feel the desire to rush this, but the United Methodist Church has done an excellent job of helping us spend time in prayer and discernment. The educational requirements of Course of Study and Theological degrees help the searching Christian continue to understand their call and the history, theology and life of the church. There are numerous other criteria that have to be met before moving forward. Just going to seminary does not mean you will be ordained. Seminary is but one step in a process of discernment and faithful leadership. Finally, moving into the hands of the Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, the person following the path to ordination spends a few years serving full-time in a local church or ministry setting, under the appointment of the Bishop, and supervision of the Board and District Superintendent. For a better understand of these paths, please check out the General Board website. It is a long process to ordination. But, it is not arbitrary or capricious. It is a well thought out process to help those who seek ordination to find the best path in ministry for them and the Body of Christ. We continue to tweak the process as allow ourselves to be hope to the leading of the Spirit and discover new options and opportunities that Christ affords us. The ministry of Elder, Deacon and Local Pastor are vital to the future health and vitality of the church. Although they are not the only ones that are to carry out the ministry of the local church, as the laity are to carry out general ministry as well. For those ordained we know what the other side of it looks like. It is a privilege and honor to serve how and where we serve. There is a lot more that could be said about ordination and I encourage anyone who has questions to talk to their pastor. Search your heart and find any and every resource you can to help you discern your call. Ordination is for life. It's not just part of your life, it's a life choice and must be affirmed by others. I hope that helps make sense of a sometimes mistaken view of the path to ordination.
Go in peace and go with God.