WATCH DRURY WRITE A BOOK. – THIS IS A TEMPORARY POST Writer’s first draft of a book to be published by The Wesleyan Publishing House. as an introduction to the ministry. This web-posted copy is an early draft of the manuscript and not intended to be used as a final document. While the editors will catch minor errors if you see something significantly wrong or missing drop Keith Drury a note at email@example.com © 2003 Keith Drury
This book is for men and women pondering a call to the ministry. While the book is written for someone of any age, it is especially designed for younger people. It is not written about you, but to you—almost like it was a series of letters or emails you might get about the ministry answering some of the questions set out at the beginning of each chapter. The book is not designed to be read through in one sitting but rather over time, thus there is occasional repetition for educational purposes.
As the author of this book it may be helpful for you to see “where I’m coming from” as I write. Nobody writes in a vacuum and nobody writes without personal bias. The following list might help you see the ministerial ethos from which I write and thus you may be able to counterbalance any of my own prejudices or errors.
1. This book espouses a high view of the ministry. You will find here a book that does not depreciate the ministry in order to pump up the importance of other life callings. I believe the ministry is a high and holy calling and the calling is as old as the Bible itself. I think the professional ministry is a wonderful way to spend your life and you’ll get great fulfillment from such a life. I believe everyone is called as a Christian to minister to others, but some are set apart as apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastors and teachers—God calls these equipping ministers and they are His gift to the church (Ephesians 4). I believe that everybody ought to want to be called to the ministry—because it is a wonderful way to invest your life. Yet the ministry is limited to those called by God and confirmed by the church. If this book fails to raise your view of ministry it has failed in one of its primary objectives.
2. This book is about ordained ministry. Every Christian, of course, is called to “minister” to others but some are called by God into lifelong ministry—these are the people the church sets apart and “ordains.” But there is a group in between ordained ministers and lay people: people in full time religious work who are not ordained. There might be music directors, youth workers, YFC workers, camp staffers, worship directors, Christian school teachers, church secretaries, business managers are many other folk that work full time and get paid full time in church or religious work but are not ordained. There are two major differences between these categories of church workers: (1) Ordained ministers perform sacred acts reserved only for them—things like presiding at Holy Communion and performing weddings and preaching regularly. And (2) Ordained people are set apart for lifelong service—for them ministry can't be a temporary job. Sometimes people headed into the ministry do not know this distinction and head for ordination when they ought to really go into non-ordained church work. Both are full time jobs in the church, and working as a lay staff person or lay missionary is a good thing to do. However this book is not written for people who want to work five years at a Christian camp as a lay person then do something else—it is for people headed for ordained lifelong ministry.
3. This book advocates a clear call to the ministry. While the ministry is a wonderful way to invest one’s life, the only people who should enter the ministry are those clearly called by God. There is no test you can take to find out if you should be a minister. There are tests that will tell you if your temperament matches some of the important personality traits of those in the ministry, or if you seem to have the aptitudes most ministers posses or think you should posses. But these are evidences to consider, they are not a call from God. God calls men and women to equip, lead, and serve his people—He’s done that for eons. He still does. Your call may come various ways—in dramatic or quiet ways, instantly or gradually—but there is such a thing as being absolutely sure that God has called you to the ministry. You may have only an inkling of this certain call today—but be assured, if God is calling you to the ministry, He will eventually make your calling sure—and if you never get sure, don't enter the ministry.
4. This book assumes a high view of the church. As important as the personal call is, it is not completed until the church confirms it. Your life of ministry is not between you and God. It is a three-way deal: between you and God and the church. God calls a minister to work with His church, the body of Christ on earth. There are scores of fun and exciting things a person might do in life, but nothing is so exciting and important as the church. The local church is God’s plan to reach the world and make disciples of all nations. There are other tools He uses, but the church is His primary tool. There are other things you can do with your life as an ordained minister (for example teach other ministers, like I do) but none of them is as important or long-lasting as ministry in a local church with the same congregation week after week. You may feel more famous if you travel around and speak at conventions, but that is a second place position to the pastors and youth pastors, and staff pastors in local churches where the greatest impact on the world is made. This book will encourage you to think about local church ministries as the best way to do God’s work on earth.
5. In this book you will see a pretty lofty view of ordination. You should know that there are some churches who won't agree with the high view of ordination in this book. There are some churches that dismiss the ministry as “nothing more than paid laity.” There are even a few independent churches that will ordain high school students and send them off to college to prepare for the ministry for which they are already ordained. Occasionally there are churches who will ordain people just so they can get the break on their taxes. While I admit there are a few churches who cast the pearls of ordination before swine, most denominations hold a much higher view of ordination more in line with this book. I believe ordination is a sacred vow you should not take without serious thought—with at least as much thought as you’d enter a marriage with. Ordination is not a temporary driver’s permit. It is a lifelong commission from the church to be a prophet and priest. You don’t get ordained to "try ministry for a few years" to se if you like it. If you have that attitude, get a job in the church without becoming ordained. Ordination is for people who plan to be lifelong ministers. Something mystical and spiritual is actually supposed to happen in your ordination service. It is more than an official act like pledging allegiance to the flag or inducting a person into the military. Most all denominations have a ritual that expects actual power to come into the person being ordained—they even have a special prayer designed to provide for this experience. Ordination is a powerful event where the church will set your apart for ministry. In your ordination God will come—and He will do something in your soul—if you let Him.
6. This book is written to both men and women. There is a whole chapter written to women who are called to the ministry, but here at the outset it is important for you to know that the writer of this book believes that God calls both men and women into the ministry—and when God calls a person they must obey. The Roman Catholic, Orthodox and some Protestant denominations do not permit women to be ordained ministers. I think they are wrong and they will eventually realize that. Until they do, if you are a woman God has called, you may have to leave the denomination of your youth to find a church who will confirm your call. That may not be fair or nice, but it is the truth. But when God calls what are you to do? You must answer his call.
So this book may present a higher view of the ministry, the church, ordination and the call than you may be familiar with. However it is not just a personal view of the author, but represents the historic position of most denominations. You should check for your own denomination's views on these matters to see if they differ from this book by reading your own denomination's ministerial preparation web site or manuals.