I was privileged to attend the Board of Ordained Ministry Quadrennial Training in Chicago this past week. I serve on our Board of Ministry as the Cabinet Representative for the Bishop. My colleagues in similiar positions and executive members of other Boards of Ordained Ministry joined together to study changes in the Book of Discipline and to look at the future of ministry in The United Methodist Church.
The meeting was informative, and the changes to the Book of Discipline seemed fairly straight forward and clear. There are a couple of new items that will impact us as clergy, but nothing we cannot handle and work with as those called and commited to continued growth.
What struck me most was the plenary session led by Dr. Elaine Heath, the new dean of Duke Divinity. She shared with us new visions of ordained ministry, not how it might look like in the future, but what it does look like right now. I got shaken up as this is not the Sunday morning preacher in your local United Methodist Church in rural or surburbian or even urban America. The new look of ordained ministry is engaging in the lives of people where they live and work and play. The look is working part-time as a barista and part-time as a bearer of the Word of God to a community unsure of their faith. These were not only young men and women, but people of all ages entering into the lives of others outside the walls of the church buildings.
We were challenged to think of ways the BOM might support and open the doors of ordaination to this new form of ministry. This form that is the future of our church.
I confess that I felt like an old fossil from an age almost extinct. I began to become depressed. I have, Lord willing, 16 more years in ministry; what does this mean for me as one called long ago? The Holy Spirit comforted me to move with the flow and to offer the wisdom I have. Many times my friend David Campbell reminded the group, "Dana and I have been at this for over 30 years!" Thanks, David! We have, and it is my hope and prayer we can continue to serve in vital ways. We don't need to fear the change or worry about being pushed out. Instead, David and I and many of you must prepare the way for the next generation. We, as pastors or extentsion ministers, must be willing to share and to change as those before us changed and made a way for us.
It is exciting to see how our ministry will live on in the time ahead in new and exciting ways which we can invest in and have a small part of today. Ask God to use you in the new day and be willing to be used.
Change is a coming, but it will all be good as God is still God and the One in contol. Trust and obey for that is the best way!