Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Statement on Ministry

I wasn't sure if this was something I should share, but I did a Google search and it looks like there are plenty of pastors who share their Statement on Ministry on their blogs.  I guess there's no reason I can't share it; it is mine after all.  This is the one-page statement that I was asked to make to send out to the churches who are seeking a pastor as a part of my profile.  It's kind of comparable to a cover letter, to give people an idea of what I believe ministry is about for me.  

If reading scripture aloud was a full-time career, I would do it.  When I first began preaching, I always received compliments like, “You have a great voice,” and “You enunciate so well.” I was absolutely certain it was a polite way of avoiding a conversation about the sermon itself while still giving a vote of support.  I thought it might be the character of my voice, especially when people would say, “when you preach, I don’t need headphones.”  But then I was taken aback when one person said to me recently, “You must live really close to God to be able to read scripture like that.”
If sitting in a rocking chair next to a newly-widowed woman and listening and laughing together was a full-time career, I would do it.  I believe that the Holy Spirit shows up in the moments when we bring one another into community.  When my daughter was born, we began visiting homebound members together.  Often, we visit an older woman who was a commercial artist before she had a stroke 20 years ago.  I watch Baby Evelyn trace her tiny, uncontrollable hands over the patterns on the woman’s lap quilt, and they seem to get one another—unable to control their hands and unable to explain their discomfort—and I know that in that moment church is happening. 
If making sock bunnies and knitting hats for babies born into poverty was a full-time career, I would do it.  When I served as an intern at Nurses for Newborns Foundation my first year in Seminary, I helped the foundation see how personal, homemade gifts can help new mothers feel loved, even when the rest of society is telling them they should have never had a baby in the first place.  As members of the Body of Christ, much of our work is about helping others to realize God’s grace-filled love.
If teaching other Christians about my favorite biblical heroines was a full-time career, I would do it.  As a part of my Master of Divinity degree at Eden Seminary, I am writing a thesis about the book of Judith, a book of the Hebrew Bible that is not included in the Protestant canon, and how I think the character of Judith can be a female advisor for the Christian faith.  I take scripture seriously, but not always literally, and I believe that learning from scripture is a thrilling, fun, essential, and lifelong adventure.  
If drinking coffee with other new moms and helping them figure out who God is to them now that they have a life to take care of was a full-time career, I would do it.  Or if teaching my best friend (an atheist) what it means to pray was a full-time career, I would do that.  I don’t know exactly why younger people aren’t going to church as often anymore, but I have a few theories.  As the church becomes drowned in a society of advertising and marketing, and as the definition of “social life” evolves, we need to figure out what evangelism looks like.  I’m an evangelist in my own, non-pushy, non-condemning kind of way, and I know that I have been successful at helping others to understand the power of God’s love in community. 
None of those things are careers in themselves.  But one day when I was 18 years old, God called me into ordained ministry.  I believe there is a way that I can put together all these passions in my ministry for the church.  I am excited about the future of the United Church of Christ and God’s Church as a whole. I am excited at the prospect of spending more time doing what I love in the name our awesome God, guided by the Holy Spirit, while learning how to live and lead like Jesus Christ. 

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