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Reaction to: "Revision to Ministerial Leadership Polity"


I will try to start this post with some words of Grace.  I understand that the people who worked on this paper put a lot of time into the project.  Also, I can see intent to be helpful, especially with regard to addressing “loneliness and isolation.”  That, however, could be better addressed as a standalone issue.

I am a product of the TRIM program, and thus grateful that we have a process for 2nd or 3rd, career pastors to become ordained for ministry.  If we are having problems with consistent training, this would be the place to look, in my opinion.  When I went through TRIM, the classes I took  “filled holes” on my transcript.  There we a few specific required classes but, I don’t remember an organized list of required classes, and they were not offered in any specific order.   As I watch others going through the TRIM program now, it is becoming more organized, but is very much a work in progress.

Regarding the new Ministerial paper as presented in the 2012 Annual Conference booklet, after my first reading, I heard the words of a friend in leadership, who describes the COB as, “overly bureaucratic and Spiritually anemic.”

The words of this document are amazingly cumbersome and so is the process that it purports.   In these days of 2nd career and bi-vocational pastors, the last thing we need is a more difficult set of hoops to jump through.  We already have a relatively straight forward process for calling out leadership.  When potential pastoral candidates look at what will be required of them, many may say, "no thanks."  Is that actually a hidden agenda in the paper, to discourage people from entering the process?

Also, I would offer this;  the current system already includes a lot of “waiting,” because the credentialing process depends heavily on volunteer help to make things happen.  Thus, a person waiting for credentialing is at the mercy of when a group of volunteers is able to meet and approve their moving forward.  Meeting with mentoring pastors can be difficult, due to already overloaded schedules. 

When I was a TRIM student, sometimes it would take weeks for a simple phone call to be returned, when I had questions.  I don’t fault those on the other end of my phone calls.  They were busy people with many other things to get done.

This leads me to ask, how in the world is making the process much more cumbersome going to be helpful?  I would also say that putting this process in place would be poor stewardship of time, and would create a whole new set of problems.  This is often the the overlooked issue with “new models.”  There can be a failure to ponder the long-term consequences of a new approach.

That’s my initial take on the document.  But, in the cumbersome collection of words, what am I missing?  I suspect that I could be missing a lot.  In the discipline of logic, there is a fallacy known as “verbalism.”  Verbalism is the abundant use of words without conveying much meaning.   In plain language, this could be “a lot of hot air," with hidden agendas.

I also see some ambiguity with terms like “calling card” or “lone ranger” ministries.  What do those terms mean?  In the current state of the COB, our “brokenness” has been named, ad nauseam.  Given our state of affairs, is making a major structural change a good idea?  There is a lot of mistrust and division in our denomination.  Thus, a change of this magnitude is going to be suspect.

While this post is “my take,” after reading the paper several times, I will simply add this:  In my interactions with ministry colleagues, I have not heard from anyone who thinks this proposal is a good idea.