by Deech Kirk
Last week, I attended an ordination mentor training, equipping me to serve others by helping them navigate the challenging process of ordination. I tweeted during the training: “Does the UMC encourage or discourage ordination with its process?” I got a lot of responses to the tweet and a few questions from those thinking about pursuing ordination that I thought I would briefly address today.
In September, I shared my article, “Professional Youth Ministry: A Changing Landscape,” that looks at the knowledge and experience that I believe forms a youth minister. But ordination is not limited to formation; it’s about a calling!
Someone smarter than me said, “God does not call the equipped, but equips the called.” Thanks be to God!
Called to Youth Ministry or Ordination
I want to begin by apologizing to my evangelical friends who come from traditions where your calling legitimizes your ordination and you can be ordained without seminary. This article is not for you. In many traditions (including the United Methodist Church), pursuing ordination can be a 10-year process. Ordination requires education, exploration, affirmation, examination, determination, frustration, and hopefully separation. So why do it?
The only reason to do it is because God Almighty called you.
Don’t do it:
- For a raise
- For respect
- For someone else
- So that you can baptize youth
Is a call to youth ministry a call to ordination? NO! Is a call to church leadership a call to ordination? NO!
A call to ordination is a call to word, service, order, and sacraments. Or if you pursue ordination as a deacon, then it is a call to word and service.
- Word–to preach and teach God’s word to God’s people
- Order–to discern God’s direction for the church and to lead the congregation
- Service–to connect the church to the world
- Sacraments–to be set apart as a vehicle that delivers God’s grace through the sacraments.
Can you be called to minister to young people and not to these things? Absolutely! Can you be called to minister to youth AND these things? Absolutely!
Ordination brings a larger spectrum of responsibilities as you serve the church. These responsibilities do not make an ordained person a better youth minister. They mean that someone has been called to them.
I am an ordained deacon in the UMC. I recognized my call to youth ministry before recognizing my call to ordained ministry. I love the call of the deacon to connect the church and the world through word and service. My collective call incorporates both these calls. They are both an important part of who I am.
If you are considering ordained ministry, I hope you will invite others to speak into your life as you prayerfully consider whether God is calling you to be set apart in this way.
Ordination will not make you a better youth minister. Seminary training might, but the act of being ordained does not make one youth minister better than another.
How have you grown in your understanding of your call? How has your call to ordination or not shaped your understanding of your call?