Can We Keep Our Promises?

By: Br.  A. Whitney LC Lawrence
August 20, 2014

The importance of such conversations and FTE taking this stand cannot be overemphasized.

“I’m thinking about quitting the MDiv.” The voice on the phone was my former student and intern here at Marsh Chapel with the support of FTE’s Pastoral Internships. While in a joint MDiv/MPH (Masters of Public Health) program, she discovered a passion for ministry at the intersection with mental health advocacy. She received incredible financial support and mentoring from faculty in her MPH program. She felt that the MDiv, however, did not challenge her and her denomination was struggling to understand what she is doing as ministry.

In its newly released resource, Seven Insights on Leadership the World Needs Now, FTE captures understandings from conversations with over 200 leaders who are engaged with the challenges and opportunities that exist for young Christian leaders. FTE and its conversation partners affirm the energy and imagination young people bring to ministry in a wide range of dimensions, with a particular concern for bringing those dimensions into more just social relation. Furthermore, FTE reaffirms its commitment to young people in their exploration of these intersections and to advocating for adjustments in theological education to support them in their exploration and enactment of multidimensional forms of ministry. The importance of such conversations and FTE taking this stand cannot be overemphasized.

Nevertheless, there is an element missing. As declines in attendance are causing churches to double down on local, congregational, pastoral leadership, it’s not clear that the young people who are taking up the mantle of ministry at the intersection with social change are readily able to receive recognition of their ministry as ministry. I have personally aided candidates for ordination to shoehorn their creative, transformative ministries into the rhetoric of congregational, pastoral ministry for the sake of authorization, much to my own chagrin.

The missing element among FTE’s insights is that this intersectional, multidimensional approach to ministry deserves recognition and authorization by the church, and not as a second-class form of ministry. Without the church’s movement toward recognition and authorization, those of us committed to fostering and nurturing the nascent stages of such creative, transformational visions of ministry must inevitably be making promises we cannot keep concerning the future of these ministries as viable in, for, and among the church.

Click here to read Seven Insights on Leadership the World Needs Now.

Tags: Diverse Solutions, Thinking Out Loud, Shaping the Future

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