Tuesday, May 1, 2012

First Thoughts : Guaranteed Apppointments

Today at the General Conference of the United Methodist Church the vote came to no longer secure guaranteed appointments for clergy. My Newsfeed became alive with clergy friends upset by this.  I've never been a big "political" church commentator..... hopefully I won't upset too many people with my thoughts here, but I couldn't help but ask...

Am I the only who is NOT upset by this?

 Yes- this will be different, but we didn't get into ministry so that we would have a guaranteed appointment

  Aren't we called to more than that?  
To be more than a pastor who has a guaranteed appointment?

I believe it is and will be possible to ensure justice with regard to race, gender, etc and still have missional effectiveness. Losing this does not lose our integrity with regard to appointment making, rather, to me, it increases our integrity and ability to do effective ministry. 

The only thing this may change is us—how we view our work. 
Have we stopped trying? Reaching? Seeking? Teaching?  Being Open to the power of God doing a new thing? 
I know many who are listening to God, doing God's work, seeking to reach others with passion and joy for ministry. 
Do we do effective work? 
Yes- so why worry?

 Are we so pessimistic that we believe the church will be only be about numbers and metrics now-because of this?  

Don't we still see God at work? 

Don't we know it’s not about us? 
 Ken Carter, made an excellent point, the church “has used the language of missional appointment making,” he said. “We want to place the emphasis on the mission – making disciples of Jesus of Christ for the transformation of the world” rather than to have a mission of providing appointments for elders

Couldn't this create in us a movement of urgency?  
We could use it.
If we're worried, its likely because we need resurgence in our own urgency. 
How many visits are you making a week? 
How much work are you putting into your sermons? 
Have you worked with your leadership to develop a solid vision for moving forward?
Where can you grow? 
Aren't these good things for us all to think about?

Don't we need some urgency?
A focus on mission and not our own status? 

I remember being in shock (yes, so na├»ve, I know) when I heard folks in seminary say things like, “I can’t wait to get to the big steeply church and make the big bucks.”  And they weren’t kidding!   

Really?  Really?
This is why you’re going into ministry?

Perhaps, it’s because I started as a missionary living a life of subsistence. 

Yes, I want my student  loans paid off and I want to be debt free and I want my girls to be able to go to college—but other than that- I’m really good.  I do not need a lot.

Yes, I need a car to be able to get me to make visits with folks in the hospital, in their homes, and to visit my family and travel as far as Wisconsin and Florida so my girls may see and play with their grandparents and cousins. 

But I do not need a big house, or lots of money, or the fanciest car.

I do not even need a guaranteed appointment to do my work well.
I do not do the work of ministry because of a guaranteed appointment.

My assurance is not there.
My worth is not there.
My value is not there.

I do not believe that the church “thanks me” for my value by guaranteeing me an appointment either.
They thank me by challenging me to continue the work Christ has called me to! 

Who wants a guarantee?   
We do not believe in “once saved always saved”
We believe that we are Onward Toward Perfection 
We believe we can backslide
We are not status quo people

We are Methodists
We are a movement
We are ignited by the power of the Holy Spirit

A flame is not guaranteed,
A flame is fanned
A flame has work to do
A flame must breathe
A flame must be nurtured

Why should we worry? Why should we be afraid?

God is still working, and so are we! 


Nancy Speas Hill said...

Amen! I'm so with you!

Anonymous said...

I'm with you, too, Beth.

Arden said...

I completely agree. I keep hearing elders say, "Deacons knew what that we getting into, but this wasn't what we agreed to!" and I just want to yell, "Really? If you'd known you weren't going to be guaranteed an appointment, you wouldn't have answered your call to ministry? How strong could your call possibly be?"

Disclaimer: I am seeking ordination as a deacon, so I acknowledge that I don't really have a dog in the fight, but still. The lack of a guaranteed appointment hasn't deterred me-- why should it deter those answering the call to elder's orders?