Unofficial Guide to Candidates

Ken Carter over at, Bear Witness to the Love of God in this World, wrote down 11 suggestions for those going in front of the Board of Ordination. I found them to be very true and all candidates should take note. I especially liked, #1, #3, and #8. Enjoy

Over the years my wife and I took our girls to Disneyworld two or three times and we benefited from a publication entitled “The Unofficial Guide...”. So, in that spirit, the Unofficial Guide For Candidates Coming Before The Board of Ordained Ministry of the United Methodist Church…

1. If you do not wish to pass a committee, the easiest way to communicate this is to act as if you resent being there. Most communication is non-verbal, so this will come across quite easily.

2. If you do not think you are going to pass a committee, tell someone that you really did not want to come today, but your (wife/mother/sister) insisted that you come anyway. Ed Friedman wisely noted that this is simply code language for personal ambiguity.

3. No one is compelled to come before the Board of Ordained Ministry. It is a free choice made by anyone, and only if that person wishes to become a Deacon or an Elder.

4. If you are in a theology committee, and you mention the words “porch, door and house”, you will bring tears to someone’s eyes! Seriously…

5. Telling a theology committee that reading is not a “big thing” for you does not garner sympathy.

6. In preaching a sermon, following an identifiable biblical passage through the entirety of a sermon will take you a long way.

7. If you have problems with authority, you are likely not going to be happy in the United Methodist Church. For better or worse, there is a lot of authority in our denomination.

8. Being Methodist implies more than not being Baptist.

9. Candidates from prestigious seminaries sometimes know very little theology, and candidates from other seminaries are at times deeply conversant with theology. There really is no rhyme or reason to it.

10. There is grace in the Board of Ordained Ministry process: sometimes that grace is for the candidate, in saying yes, and sometimes that grace is for the candidate and a congregation somewhere in saying no. This is the pain and the burden of the work, and boards are quite aware that they are also under the grace and judgment of God.

(I added one more so that this would not be confused with the Decalogue…)

11. In the parish you will actually receive little constructive feedback. If you can make a virtue out of necessity, and see the Board of Ordained Ministry as your last and best opportunity to get truthful and sometimes painful reflection on your self, your beliefs and your preaching and teaching, you and those you serve will benefit, and the mission of God will be more fruitful.

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