By: Christina Schmitt
November 09, 2015
I tried to articulate my conviction between pursuing a leadership position in the church or a secular organization because I do not always think the church seeks my definition of a Christian ethic.
I sat in a fluorescent lit conference room in Peachtree City, GA. Wade in the Water echoed in the room from the morning’s worship and the floor was open for those contemplating vocation and seeking advice to share with the group. There was a space of silence as the room prepared for the next person to offer their discernments.
Deep breathe, I stood. I attempted to explain to a group of strangers that I seek to do good in my community. I tried to articulate my conviction between pursuing a leadership position in the church or a secular organization because I do not always think the church seeks my definition of a Christian ethic. More than that, the ordination for my own denomination is veering on the side of dauntingly impossible to the point that I am unsure if they even want me. I vocalized my accusation of the church doing more harm than good. And sometimes, I pondered aloud, I wonder if God’s work isn’t done through the church but through secular organizations that aren’t tied up in theology and doctrine?
This was a mouthful to confess in a room full of pastors, worship leaders, and devoted lay people.
As the session ended and we phased into a break, I caught the eye of my retreat roommate. She smiled as she took my hand and said, “I think you already know what you are going to do.” Throughout the morning, people I did not know became known to me. They offered support and advice concerning how to navigate through my denomination’s ordination process and even admit they have the same questions about the church’s ethics.
The more conversations I had with these strangers, the less strange they became. In fact, they resembled me in more ways than I anticipated. Despite all the differences; racial, denominational, sexual orientation, we found common ground in our pursuits of good and desire to create God’s kingdom in our communities. It was exhilarating to know that people in that room had actually made it through the ordination process and had practical, applicable advice. I was thrilled to meet undergraduate students who questioned the church’s structures and how to work in it so it was helpful and not destructive to a community.
It was a relief to know I am not alone in my state of having more questions than answers.
At the end of the regional discernment retreat, we were asked to stand up and share a few words of what we will take away from our time together. Many beautiful answers were offered; no longer fearful, spiritually renewed, liberated. I stood, more confidently than before, and announced that I am not alone. I am not alone in pursuing justice and good in the church. I am comforted to know that those who I met this weekend are the leaders of today’s church, and am comforted knowing they lead with grace, confidence, and joy in their vocations and have inspired me to do the same.