I think those who want to be in Ministry (Vocational, bi-vocational or non-profit work) here in America have many times been told by spiritual leaders, people in position, school professors, job resumes, or mentors that in order to GO or DO or START they need to…
-be assessed and prove faithfulness in the little things for a good amount of time
-pursue leadership but not clamor for it, show humility and submission but prove you have drive and self motivation
-spend the right number of years getting the right degree
-have a well laid out plan
-be financially stable/responsible
-have stability and success be a probable outcome in a decent amount of time
-have the right connections with the right churches
-have successful experience in whatever ministry they are passionate about
-know beyond a shadow of a doubt that’s where they have been “called”
Y’all, When we look at the life and ministry of Jesus and his followers we don’t see any of that!!! We see men and women recognizing Jesus for who He says He is, hearing His call to come follow Him and then laying all aspects of success, career, comfort and reputation aside and going and preaching the gospel…to the point of it costing them their very lives.
Church, let us not be at a loss for words when Jesus asks us why we squashed the gifts and desires of His children who wanted to do incredible things that just required great faith and obedience to a Big mighty God but we demanded so much more.
Brothers and Sisters, if you’re desiring to be a leader and to lead a deeper, more vocal, more risky, more demanding, more out of the box, more needed, more focused ministry but your church is asking you to prove yourself beyond the biblical requirements to the extent that you are putting off what you are passionate about or they aren’t fanning the flames of ministry you know are there …..then please push back on them, pursue ministry with zeal and ask them to come along side of you and let their faith and joy increase with yours, and if nothing changes, know that ultimately you don’t need the permission of your church, church planting org., ministry org, parents, paid position, “the way it’s always been done”, previous success, or anyone’s permission or approval to fulfill what Gods asked of you and put in your heart.
Run hard after His fame and the flame He’s lit in your heart…the reward is worth it!! So worth it!!
Another problem with this process/system of ministry advancement is that seminary and typical forms of ministry preparation are often reserved for those with access to them either because of means or their proximity to traditional contexts. Further, placement within ministry training programs often depends upon “intellectual ability or academic promise”. This is especially true in graduate level education where in undergraduate degree towards ministry training is necessary. Our current context in the West for training ministry leaders or preparing individuals to be missionaries in various domains, is largely not available to the poor, the marginalized, or those without access in proximity to networks that would help them. Any future understanding of how to train people for ministry must change this! Ministry advancement is a paved path for those with some level of higher intelligence, wealth, charisma, network. Let’s work to pave the path where the rocks and ditches and barricades are for those who don’t fit that certain criteria. Because it’s not biblical criteria. Not saying the steps one takes to prepare are bad… I’m saying, it shouldn’t be what’s required!!
And lest anyone think I’m anti-church or anti-seminary or anti-counsel, I’m not. As a seminary educated person myself, Lord knows I’m not. I just see a tendency in our churches here in america to hoard power and position and to not empower those who are deemed ready and qualified by scripture, but we set up hurdles in the name of caution or wisdom that were never meant to be set up. Again, im not saying Christianity can be lived apart from the church or missions should be a solo mission…. I’m saying that too many churches/organizations have a process that stifles and limits what God is doing and can do in the life of someone desiring more vocational ministry. So if that’s the case… find a place where the gospel is needed and churches are needed and begin to cultivate a body of believers who will empower and uplift and belong to them and lead them!