Really quickly, what is the purpose of ordination?
Let’s say you follow the call to ministry, to this life of servitude and infamy, how do you decide by whom you would be ordained (denominationally speaking) and to whom (what community)?
I know I have the tendency to speak irreverently about the office of the reverend, but I mean this as an honest question. I’m confused as to how twenty- and thirty-somethings like myself make these significant and important decisions without knowing the breadth and depth of what is out there. I have discovered that I know too little and it is a scary feeling.
Ordination is licensure to practice within a certain doctrinal/denomination background. Ordained ministers have more clout, make more money, and have better benefits. At the very least, they have more job security than those who are not ordained.The economist in me says that there is a strong incentive for institutions to preserve their interests and put money behind people who they feel will best preserve and perpetuate their agendas. The cynic in me asks, that’s not necessarily a license from God now, is it?
But the realists around me respond, exactly how do you think people will give you the right to do any ministry at all when they don’t really know what doctrines you espouse?
The cynic retorts, the right to ministry? God called me to ministry, I don’t need people to give me a calling I already have. Does a singer require a certificate to sing? Or a marketer to advertise? As for doctrines, ordination assumes I know them, it doesn’t say that I believe them or live them.
The realist, but don’t you think some minimum proof of at least “knowing” them is required?
Cynic: I see. it’s like a driver’s license. You’ll let me drive the bus because the state of Georgia says I can. but what if God has a history of off-roading?
Realist: there are too many wolves in sheep’s clothing, we are trying to protect the community of believers with validation by other larger, governing bodies.
cynic: and you think there are no wolves there? you think that will keep the wolves out? maybe the reason why these denominations are dying is because they are trying to protect something that cannot / should not be protected. kind of like Christian radio “safe for the whole family” stuff. who said God was “safe”?
the lover in me, who couldn’t stand any more of it, shouted, Jesus laid down his life for the sheep! …if you were a shepherd of a flock, wouldn’t you do whatever requirement, however petty, to be around them?
Yes, but where do I start? I am the son of a baptist preacher gone charismatic, then gone methodist; redeemed in an ex-church of Christ church, married in a presbyterian church and now a student at a presbyterian seminary while attending an evangelical free church. Who will have this doctrinal mutt? I don’t have to be a shepherd, I’d be satisfied to be a sheep dog, but aren’t these questions about ordination too farfetched?
People ask to see if their doctors are board-certified. Even a massage therapist needs a license. Certainly forklift operators. Who am I to operate without one? Even if it is from an institution that is struggling in its growth. Even if I know that none of these things actually qualify me, wouldn’t I myself get confused at what really qualifies me to serve the people? There is no certification for love, ok, maybe marriage, but not love. there is for madness, but not love.