Monday, March 21, 2016

Why Did You Leave the Ministry?

In a recent interview in Report from the Capital, a publication of the Baptist Joint Committee, the interviewer asked Dr. Molly Marshall, the president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, this question:  “You’ve spent more than 30 years dedicated to theological education.  Why did you choose this path rather than a full-time career in ministry and preaching?”

In response, Dr. Marshall said, “Actually, I believe I have chosen the path of full-time ministry!”  She went on to discuss the value to the church of the ministry of theological education and the joy of forming students for ministry.  She had responded to “the unique call of God” for her life.

I spent most of my ministry working with college students and their leaders and was often asked, “When you are going to ‘get’ a church?”   I believe in the church in its many expressions and activities.  Jesus created the church and gave his life for it.  We are called to be part of the church—both local and universal. Even so, like Dr. Marshall, I believe that my ministry outside of the walls of the institutional church was valid and important.

As we consider the future of Christian ministry, we must be open to the breadth and variety of Christian ministry.  In reality, all Christians are called to ministry.  As one person said, “Our baptism is our ordination to ministry.”  The church calls out some individuals to devote their lives to specific ministry and we usually offer ordination “to the Gospel Ministry” or “to Word and Sacrament” (in some traditions) to those individuals.

Even so, ministry is the 21st century has already become more fluid and entrepreneurial.  In many ways, it is more like ministry in the first century when new ways of proclaiming the news of the Messiah were being formulated.  

Keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunities and expressions of ministry in the days ahead.  This is the way forward for the church!

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