Saturday, July 01, 2017

Ministry credentials, and memories

Yesterday I received mail from the conference office that holds my ministry credentials. Every year they send me a new "ID Card" stating that I am an ordained pastor. I've always thought this odd for two reasons: For one, why do I need an ID card/what am I supposed to use it for? I've never once had anyone ask to see it in the almost 20 years I've been ordained. Secondly, since I supposedly have a "life" ordination, why does my ID card expire every year? I do not know.

Anyway, this year I noticed a couple things I've not noticed before. For starters, the phone number listed on my ID card is not mine. I think it is the church office number from the church I last pastored 4 years ago. I can't be sure, but I think I might have noticed this at some point over the last 3 years. I do not recall the wrong phone number before. I don't really recall a phone number at all.

Another thing I've not noticed before was this sentence in the accompanying letter: "If there are any errors or changes that need to be made, or you are no longer involved in an approved ministry, please provide the Office with that information at your earliest convenience." Hmmm... I don't recall ever seeing THAT before. I honestly don't know what an "approved ministry" is, nor was I aware that I needed to be involved in one. I guess I'm not opposed, but this is new to me.

I suppose these are consequences of having no connection to anyone from the conference. You know, I TRIED to keep the lines of communication open, but it only seemed to go one way. So I'm not really sure what to think. The paranoid side of me wonders if someone intentionally put the wrong phone number on my ID card to see if I would contact them so they could tell me I wasn't in an "approved ministry" then they could strip me of my ordination. But I really hate to start thinking like that. I'm hoping it's a simple mistake made because we have a new Regional Director.

As far as me being ordained... I don't really know what to think about that either. On the one hand, does it really even matter? I mean, is Jesus at all concerned with such designations? But on the other hand, it's not something I take lightly. I know I'm not participating in ministry in any "official" capacity right now, but I'd like to think I'm still involved. I am listed as "unassigned" - as are a great number of other ordained ministers I know. I've kind of thought I have been in a season of needing recovery and renewal after suffering ministry burnout. I thought I was doing what I was supposed to do but, again, it's difficult to know without any communication. So... I don't really know what to do, or if I should do anything.

It's somewhat of an interesting bit of irony, but the morning after I received my ID card I was reminded by Facebook of the last time we attended the Cornerstone Festival put on my the Jesus People. It was 2011, and I have a picture of Glenn Kaiser with the heading, "He is a large part of the reason I do what I do." What I meant at the time was my involvement as pastor in a church.

Lately I've been missing the days I used to spend in study and prayer and interaction with people. I always thought there was something to be admired about bi-vocational pastors, but I think the truth is, I am not cut out for that. It's too much work for me. I struggle finding the time I need for prayer and contemplation - at least in my current occupation. I have always appreciated Eugene Peterson's take on the need for people to be unencumbered by "other" vocation, so they can concentrate on those aspects of ministry. Certainly history is full of examples of monks and clerics who gave themselves fully to these, can I say, "skills"? Then again, sometimes I think I'm just too lazy.

So, this is way more words than I intended on the subject, but I guess I'm just thinking out loud. I don't know anything anymore. I've probably forgotten more than I ever knew in the first place. But it's nice to have this Saturday morning where I don't have to "work" so I can sit and ponder and write and... I guess that's about all it is.

Carry on.