Nature Songs, century plants bloom only once in their lifetime. The rest of their life is about waiting and growing.
In a mere 9 days I will be walking across the platform in Chase Gymnasium at Biola University receiving a Master of Divinity from Talbot School of Theology. It has taken me 6 1/2 years to complete the 98 semester unit program (not bad for someone working fulltime). If I were a man, I would be preparing to seek ordination at my church. Frankly, if I were in another American Baptist church I would be seeking ordination. But I'm not a man and I'm not in another American Baptist church. I'm at TFB.
Oddly, my church's reluctance (refusal) to ordain me is not a major concern. It's not that I agree with this position. I don't. It's that I don't need to be ordained to do what God has called me to do. Of this I am thankful.
Of course the sad thing is that their reluctance is based upon a misunderstanding of ordination. They think this gives the 'pastor' special powers. Now, they and others holding their position, will deny this charge, but if you listen to the arguments they put forth, the assessment holds water. The sad thing is ordination has nothing to do with this. Ordination is the church saying they agree that God has called and equiped an individual for ministry to the whole church. No special powers. So, though such things are of interest to me and one day I may seek ordination, it is not my issue now.
A bigger issue for me is cultural compromise in how local congregations make decisions. The business model has infected our ministries, scripture has been set aside, and theology is considered useless to things like budgets and administration. Meetings are run by Robert's Rules of Order, with a bible no where in sight. Brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.
Now, things are changing at TFB--slowly--but there are many miles yet to cross and many detractors standing in the way. So, I must ask myself the same question Ann asked (regarding egalitarianism) over at Thru a glass darkly, Why do I stay? My answer is the same as hers: "for all its warts, my church is my home and God has not moved me anywhere else."
Like Ann, I have hopes for change. The changes are different, but related. I know that when we get back to relying on scripture as the only rule for faith and practice, honest exegetes will see that God calls and equips both men and women for ministry. I know that when we focus more on worshiping God that we will begin to see his priorities in expanding his kingdom. Our frankly petty issues will slip into obscurity. I know that there will come a time when the voices of the detractors are lost amidst the worship and work of a people following hard after God.
So, for now, I can wait.
After all, there is something to be said for persistence.
Tag(s): church egalitarianism ordination