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The gifts and graces for ministry

07.28.06 | 6 Comments

It’s no secret here that I grew up in the crossfire between free range charismatics and institutional Methodist bureaucracy, so it should come as little surprise that I have strong feelings about seminary, denominational credentialing and ministry.

One half of my church life taught me that anyone with the gifts and graces for ministry was a minister and that we are all called to be ministers. The other half taught me that ministry was something conferred by graduate professional degrees and power hungry old men with black robes. Perhaps you see where I’m going with this.

The vast majority of ministry I’ve received has been from nonordained ministers. I’ve received ministry from ordained ministers too. But it had precious little to do with their seminary education or traditional mainline ordination. They are ministers to me because they ministered to me. They did not insist upon tag and title.

In the charismatic circles I grew up in, we put high stock in the priesthood of all believers, and it worked. Ministry was going on everywhere. There were abuses, to be sure, but no more than among ordained mainline clergy.

It should also come as little surprise that I see class issues here too. Seven years total of education is simply not necessary. “Professionals” are not the only people who should be looked up to and trusted. Ministry should be an art and a craft, not a profession. Think master carpenter, not psychiatrist.

A Master of Divinity degree don’t mean shit all for ministry. If ordained ministry cannot be successfully performed without seminary educations and denominational credentials, the human condition is much worse than I had previously imagined. I’ve written here before that I don’t think seminary works and proposed what I would do as a replacement. I won’t rehearse that again now.

But I will say this: Anyone who insists I owe them respect for their overprofessionalized seminary education and ordination credentials is selling something that I’m not buying.

So says Chutney, MDiv.


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