Why I Don’t Belong in Ministry

This is my official blog about why I have no business being in ministry. Well. . . not exactly. Maybe it’s more a blog about the false perceptions and expectaions we place on others, including ourselves. You see, we live in a cookie-cutter world where preachers are cut right from the fabric which we ourselves manufacture and design. We develop the mold and form preachers into exactly what we expect them to be. We even separate them into special categories that are found nowhere in Scripture. Many call ministers “clergy” (the “professional”) and and everyone else “parishioners” (dedicated members to one church body with its own minister) or, even more degrading, “lay” members.

I guess part of this blog is sparked by the many comments that I get from well-intentioned people I meet in the street. The most common compliment(?) I get is, “Minister? You’re too young to be a minister!,” as if a 32 year old man (older than Jesus when he began his ministry, by the way) lacks the compitence, faith, experience, or knowlege to effectively preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It gets worse. As I was working on my sermon for Sunday, the more I compared Scriptural requirements for Jesus’ preachers to some ads listed online for ministers, the more troubled I got. If I were to meet the expectations of some of these ads, Jesus and I would be disqualified for ministry. Here is just a sample of one such ad for a preacher and, keep in mind, these ads are a dime a dozen. For this particular congregation the minister’s expectaions include, but are not limited to:
1. Must be married (sorry Jesus, you’re out)
2. Must be between the ages of 35-55 (I’m automatically disqualified here)
3. Must have a degree in Bible or a certificate from a 2 year preaching school and counseling certificate/degree desired
4. Must provide counseling services to couples, families, and individual
5. Prepare and preach lessons from the pulpit. Sermons should connect with a wide variety of age goupls and offer practical instruction
6. Pepare and teach Bible class lessons
7. Work with elders/deacons to set goals, determine priorities, establish programs, use timelines, etc. to help the church accomplish its mission
8. Assist the congregation by leading in visitation of prospects, visiting hospitals, peforming weddings and funerals
9. Provide direction and supervision ot the church’s evangelism/outreach effort
10. Be involved in the community as a representative of the church and seek opportunities to evangelize
11. (my personal favorite) Attend all congregational functions, as able
12. Participate in elders/preachers meetings
13. Attend professional development events as required
14. Lead by example in creating congregational unity
15. Work with other ministers on staff
16. Be an excellent communicator both orally and written
17. Be competent in using information technology and presentation tools
There are more; my fingers are tired from typing and at this point I’m so underqualified that I’ll leave this position to God.

Jesus tells his disciples more about what not to take with them than he does about what he requires of them to be preachers:
1. Carry no moneybag
2. Carry no knapsack
3. Carry no sandals
4. Greet no on on the road (interesting requirement, eh?)
5. Enter a house in peace and eat/drink whatever they give you
6. Do not go from house to house (looking for better accommodations)
7. Heal the sick and tell them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you”
8. Wipe the dust off your feet if you are rejected (a symbol of protest and coming condemnation)

By the way, these are not the requirements for Jesus’ 12 “trained” apostles that he sent out previously. These are the requirements for 72 followers of Jesus as recorded only by Luke and whom we otherwise know absolutely nothing about. We don’t know what Bible schools they graduated from, what their marital status is, what their age is, whether they can work Power Point, what their preaching style is, whether they can even read or write, how long they have been following Jesus (my guess is maybe a couple weeks?), or whether they are certified in counseling.

We do know that Jesus told them not to take anything but the clothes on their backs. We also know that they were not professional “ministers.” We know that they were faithful to Christ and that they didn’t make excuses for why they weren’t good enough or smart enough to talk to others about Jesus. We know that, after Jesus stripped everything from them (even food for travel), what remained was faith. And faith, my friends, qualifies all of us to share Jesus with others. We cannot go on making our own lists of expectations for “professional” preachers and expect the Lord’s church to grow. Our faith, not mine alone, is what grows the church. When all of its members are faithful to Jesus Christ and when everyone shares Him with others by using their gifts, God’s church will grow.

Applicants welcome!

7 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Belong in Ministry”

  1. Love it my brother. As a young Evangelist I hear the same things. LOL One time a few years ago I was told by a congregation that I had a better plan of outreach than other candidates, I had more experience than other candidates, and I delivered better sermons that the other candidates but I would not be asked to be their Evangelist as i only had a two year degree. They wanted someone with a four year degree. I said I am still working my next degree. Yes, we understand that but the other candidates have already completed theirs. LOL That was the best thing that ever happend to me!!!!!

    P.S. Check out my blog and follow it if you like. thehotspot-caf.blogspot.com Have a red letter day. See you Tuesday at CCCC!

    One love,
    Chad

    1. Chad, your experience just proves that we have a preconceived mold of what we expect ministers to be. Unfortunately, this is one of the things killing Christianity in the US. I once had a friend excited to tell me that their minister go fired. I asked why and he said, “because he wasn’t doing his job.” I asked what that entailed and he went down the prefabricated list (visiting shut-ins, counseling, being at every Bible study, etc.). This notion also creates stagnation on the part of other Christians and robs them of the joy of serving others in the name of Christ. And I will be sure to check out your blog! See you Tuesday!!

  2. Jimmy,
    Very good thoughts. Has anyone ever told you that you have a talent for writing? I’m expecting to see a book on “walking by faith” within the next year!

    I guess this means I have no more excuses for not sharing Jesus with everyone I meet? And, I also think this means you are one super man of faith because I’ve never known you not to share Jesus with everyone you meet.
    Love and prayers,
    Claire (sometimes called “mom” )

    1. Not really sure how talented I am (or disciplined). Unless God teaches me some serious time management skills I doubt you’ll see a book anytime soon.

      But we are striving to be a congregation where everyone is enabled and empowered by God to share Jesus with everyone. Lord knows I can’t do it alone. Nor was it ever intended to be that way! Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. Ah, you’ve struck a nerve here, my friend. Personally, I find it a bit arrogant and a lot worldly to offer up a list of expectations at all to a preacher, as if ministry was a “job.” The whole notion of ministry as employment has no business (and no precedent in the first 300 years of the church) in the life of a congregation. Ministry is not a job, but a calling. And if it is a calling, who, praytell, is the one who calls? God. So where, in such a list of expectations, is the time or support for paying attention to the specific people or activities that God puts on a particular minister’s heart (or in their path)? Most congregations, in my considerable experience, want someone who can be everything to everybody – a messiah, if you will. Instead of presenting him with a list of expectations his 120 new bosses demand of him, a far more biblical, but completely unheard of way to bring a new minister into a congregation would be to seek from him a sense of his own calling, asking who God has made him to BE, and inviting him into a congregation’s midst with the freedom to live out his calling in their midst as he and the Lord sees fit. So, “Instead of trying to press you into our mold, we want you to live out of God’s mold – the one he designed uniquely for you. Live out of your intimate relationship with God and your own unique formation and experiences. Let that be the wellspring that nourishes you and guides your activities and relationships. We see the Lord in you and we want you to bring into our midst whatever the Lord has given you to give. You do that and we’ll try to do the same, and we’ll support you as you do.” Let me know if you ever find a church that operates that way.

    1. Great points, Ron. Worse yet, a lot of congregations “interview” and select preachers based on doctrinal issues (what’s your position on divorce/remarriage, etc., etc.; you know the drill) rather than asking them about spiritual issues (how do you know that you’ve been called, how do you treat your family in private, etc.). I think the pendulum can swing in the right direction if enough Christians refuse to give in to the cookie cutter method of “hiring” ministers and set their hearts on listening to Jesus Christ. Many churches today, I fear, would be angry with Jesus for being so lax in his selection and commissioning of disciples. Can you imagine the scandal of him calling tax collectors and “sinners” to follow him and preach for him?

      1. Yes indeed, mi amigo. We evaluate preachers with far too worldly and self-centered (selfish?) eyes (What can he do for me; how’s he meeting my needs) and not nearly enough on how close is his walk with God. How healthy are his relationships would be a good one, too. Love ya, friend! Keep up the great work and great thoughts!!

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