I have to say, I actually enjoyed this quite a lot. There were probably about 40 people altogether. There were denominational executives, seminary people, and pastors from all across our denomination. Executive Director, Ed, sort of ran things, but there were quite a few different people who addressed different concerns with our present credentialing system, we did quite a bit of discussing in smaller groups, and we had some open discussion too. And I have to admit, part of why I even chose to come to this was because I wondered just how controversial things might get. But I was pleasantly surprised at the spirit of unity that seemed present. Plus it was just nice to get together with some other people and talk about spiritual/church type things. We talked church in the meetings, at our meals, and during break times. I need to do things like this more often. Though I would still prefer to not be involved in too many things like this in an "official" capacity.
Speaking of which... I intended to come and just sit and listen. I didn't know much about what had already been discussed, and it's not really something that concerns me a great deal. But somehow I ended up being the spokesperson for our group (me, Jim Wilder, Chuck-the-pa-church-planting-guy, the reg. director from ok., and I can't remember the other guy who is on ad council from ohio). I did kind of like being included with them though, and was glad to meet all of them other than Jim, whom I've known and liked for quite some time.
I kind of got mixed signals about what this symposium was even about. The point is that we want to establish a new way of credentialing people in our denomination (ordination, licensing, etc.). At first I thought it was because there were people who wanted a quicker method of getting people credentialed (for church planters and multiplication efforts), then someone suggested it had to do with a church that had just pulled out of our denom. But in the end I think my first thought was more correct. Some random things I took out of this...
- There is a real back-log in the eastern region, and their process needs something done to make things happen faster.
- We currently have four options: ordination, annual license, provisional license with privilege, and provisional license without privilege. I think most people want to remove the 'with/without privilege' part. I think most would like to find another term instead of "provisional" - it sounds somewhat second-class. And something that I have always thought, we should keep the ordination and annual license as being conferred by the denom (or regions), but allow the local church to confer the provisional licenses.
- Most everyone agreed that we need to somehow incorporate the APEST gifts in our credentialing system.
- Most everyone also agreed that we need to not make a seminary education the only means of preparing people for ministry.
- One of the biggest things I think that kept coming up was a need for more of a "low control, high accountability" system though. There seemed to be a consistent concern about keeping people connected once they've been ordained and/or licensed. It's like the system is front-loaded with preperatory stuff, but once you get there, then you're just left on your own.
I suppose there were plenty of other things too, but those are just the things that caught my attention. One other thing I noticed too, though, is that I must be the only church leader who doesn't have a smart phone and/or a tablet of some kind. I was embarrassed to even use my phone. Even the old fogies all had smart phones.
All in all though, this was a really nice time for me. I think I need to make it a point to force myself to get together with more people like this. In fact, I'm thinking of asking Bill Shoemaker (the guy in charge of church planting for whatever region Ohio is in) if I can meet with him from time to time. He just has a way of asking very direct questions and saying what really needs to be said.
So... I guess that's about all I can think of to say about that right now.
ADDED LATER: Dan Masshardt was also there, and he has a much better description of the events HERE.