"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Why I am Seeking Ordination

As of May 1, I have started an internship that lasts for a year and is intended to prepare a candidate for ordination. Completion of the internship does not guarantee ordination, for ordination requires a church extending a call. So in a year, I will not necessarily be ordained but that is my intention, with a willingness to do something else if there is no need in the church.

My seeking ordination might evoke two questions: Why ordination? Why in your particular church? [or you may not ask, but I'll answer for my own conscience]

My original intention in attending seminary was to teach. My undergrad degree is in education. Yet, my desires were to teach at a higher educational level, either among high schoolers or in college. I had an interest in Theology as well as history, and had been encouraged that I had an ability to teach. So I attended grad school/seminary.

While at seminary, I began to question where I should teach. Thinking that I should do something distinctly Christian with my degree. I considered teaching History and Theology in a setting such as a foreign school. But then I had a paradigm shift. I was introduced to the Church.

After 5 months in seminary, we finally settled in a local church. While there, the church was presented as something different than what I previously conceived it as. Before, church was the voluntary: a voluntary association of individual believers working together but sustained by their individual piety. Instead, I was introduced to a vision of the church as the essential and necessary, not voluntary, the source of the proclamation of the gospel, and therefore the conversion and growth of the Christian. The first duty of the Christian therefore is to the church, not the organizations outside the church, which may help the church, but do not replace the church.

As I shifted from seeing the church as a human institution to a divine instrument of God's purposes on earth, this also forced me to revisit my plans. Instead of my original plan, I was led to present my feeling of giftedness in teaching to the church. There it may be evaluated and confirmed, or dis-abused. The greatest use of teaching is the teaching of the Word, specifically of the demands of the law and their answer in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I do not feel any entitlement to be ordained. I very well may not be ordained or not receive a call from a church body. Yet, I submit myself to the church first. If she requires me, I shall serve her by serving her Groom. If not, I shall worship in her, support her, and seek a vocation that suits my skills.


M. Jay Bennett said...

Well stated sir! I'm praying for you.

Andrew said...

I hope you get ordained, from all of our encounters I've been blessed by your gift of teaching and the kindness you have when doing so.

Matthew Lush said...

I would echo the sentiment of both Jay and Andrew. From what I perceive you have the ability, God willing the calling will follow!

Aaron said...

I hope and pray the ordination will go well. I sense a couple of backhands to a straw man here. For the record voluntary in free church theology means unforced buy the magistrate and un-assumed in general. I.E. the church should be confessional both corprately and individually. Individual confessions should not be assumed or coerced. Hence volintary in that sense only. But yes, both belief and church membership and care are mandatory. I am encouraged to see you grew out of that view. I did too by good teaching and the Holy Spirit’s work.
I am very confident you will be up to the challange!

Jared Nelson said...

I did not have a Congregational ecclesiology in mind. I had a vague American Evangelical idea that is assumed that says "I am the church" that has no functional role for membership or clergy or the means of grace or a confession.

Jared Nelson said...

I do mean to say the church is where piety is begun and cultivated, and then buttressed by individual piety. We do not bring our individual piety to church, but our churchly piety to our daily lives. Sanctification, I believe, has its roots in the church and grows outward. It is not something with roots outside of the church which may happen to make its way into the church. I've said similar things here:


Aaron said...

Well put. I like that train.