by Deech Kirk
Last week, I attended an ordination mentor training, equipping me to serve others by helping them navigate the challenging process of ordination. I tweeted during the training: “Does the UMC encourage or discourage ordination with its process?” I got a lot of responses to the tweet and a few questions from those thinking about pursuing ordination that I thought I would briefly address today.
In September, I shared my article, “Professional Youth Ministry: A Changing Landscape,” that looks at the knowledge and experience that I believe forms a youth minister. But ordination is not limited to formation; it’s about a calling!
Someone smarter than me said, “God does not call the equipped, but equips the called.” Thanks be to God!
I want to begin by apologizing to my evangelical friends who come from traditions where your calling legitimizes your ordination and you can be ordained without seminary. This article is not for you. In many traditions (including the United Methodist Church), pursuing ordination can be a 10-year process. Ordination requires education, exploration, affirmation, examination, determination, frustration, and hopefully separation. So why do it?
The only reason to do it is because God Almighty called you.
Don’t do it:
Is a call to youth ministry a call to ordination? NO! Is a call to church leadership a call to ordination? NO!
A call to ordination is a call to word, service, order, and sacraments. Or if you pursue ordination as a deacon, then it is a call to word and service.
Can you be called to minister to young people and not to these things? Absolutely! Can you be called to minister to youth AND these things? Absolutely!
Ordination brings a larger spectrum of responsibilities as you serve the church. These responsibilities do not make an ordained person a better youth minister. They mean that someone has been called to them.
I am an ordained deacon in the UMC. I recognized my call to youth ministry before recognizing my call to ordained ministry. I love the call of the deacon to connect the church and the world through word and service. My collective call incorporates both these calls. They are both an important part of who I am.
If you are considering ordained ministry, I hope you will invite others to speak into your life as you prayerfully consider whether God is calling you to be set apart in this way.
Ordination will not make you a better youth minister. Seminary training might, but the act of being ordained does not make one youth minister better than another.
How have you grown in your understanding of your call? How has your call to ordination or not shaped your understanding of your call?
We are hearing from numerous youth ministers that during this season their plate is just too full. Caring for others is a ministry staple, but often it comes at the expense of caring for oneself. Self care for the Youth MInister is so important. If you don’t take time for yourself and your own relationship with God, not only will you suffer, but eventually your students will too.
We’ve created a Pandemic Youth Week curriculum bundle that combines elements of both a summer camp and a youth week. Many youth are missing out on both of these due to cancelled camps and trips among other cancelled important events your youth would usually attend. We’ve written this curriculum such that it can be used in person while socially distancing, online, or some combination of both.
Despite all the challenges the pandemic has presented to youth ministries, it has also created an opportunity to allow youth more involvement in worship. Although youth sunday will look very different this year, it is a great opportunity to empower our youth to be leaders. Youth’s comfort and familiarity with technology make them a great resource for churches who are seeking to move their worship services online for the first time.