Strange Times

by Robert Earl Houston

My ordination day in December 1984 with my brother in the ministry, Rev. Walter M. Brown, Jr. at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, Portland, Oregon

My ordination day in December 1984 with my brother in the ministry, Rev. Walter M. Brown, Jr. at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, Portland, Oregon

I recently was made aware of something that I mentioned on Facebook, but I believe it needs some elaboration here.

A minister was ordained to preach before even uttering one word. That’s right – even before their first words of the gospel are uttered, they had already been ordained to the Gospel Ministry. I have a few opinions on this:

FIRST, IT CHEAPENS THE MINISTRY

The preaching minister of Jesus Christ is not an “add water” movement. Too many churches and pastors are “in a hurry” when it comes to the preaching ministry and would rather “microwave” an unqualified minister in the hopes that they’ll be “just fine” after while, instead of “cooking” like momma used to – on the stove of experience, no matter how long it takes, and then serving it when it’s “just right.”  Those who say God has called them on Monday have no business being ordained Wednesday night. It makes a mockery and it cheapens the ministry – the process is valuable. Even Jesus’s disciples went through a process. Even the Apostle Paul went through a process. And I’m sure 99.99999% of those ministers who will read this understands that this “instant ordination” cheapens the integrity of the process.

SECONDLY, IT HURTS THE MINISTER

Several years ago, I preached a revival for a senior minister, of which I was then and still are grateful for the experience. As I sat in the study waiting to come to the pulpit, I was praying and stood up to get ready to walk out of the door and glanced at the wall. The Pastor had his educational degrees on the wall – his bachelor’s degree and his master’s degree and his doctorate degree. Strangely, they were all dated on the same day – meaning that he was awarded the degrees at one time. I never asked him about it (none of my business) but I’m sure for many who saw it, it didn’t win over any hearts. The same can be said of any minister who is ordained prior to preaching – it makes them a punchline instead of a headline. It creates an unnecessary lack of credence to a minister even before they open their mouth. And it prepares the soil for arrogance, hostility and self-importance.

THIRDLY, IT HURTS ORDER

I learned order as a child. For example: A, B, C, D . . .  For example: 1, 2, 3, 4 . . .  For example:  God, Family then Church.  And I also learned (and this is written from the perspective of a baptist minister) – confession of the call, preparation of the initial or trial sermon, then licensure and then ordination.  This is not a case of getting the cart before the horse – it’s a case of getting the cart out and forgetting the horse.  There has to be an order – a method to this gladness. For me, I still treasure that meeting with my pastor, Dr. A. Bernard Devers, I, to confess my call to preach. I still cherish those 5 months he gave me to prepare my first sermon (which I must have rehearsed 100 times over and over). I still cherish that one year and five months of waiting until I was licensed (man, that taught me patience), and then I cherished the time (and I never pushed the issue) of between licensure (1979) and ordination (1984) and that was AFTER serving as Co-Interim Pastor at my home church and serving as candidate for pastor and/or acting pastor in several congregations. There has to be an order for ministry and any minister who “jumps the line” and goes from call to ordination cannot be taken seriously.

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED.

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7 responses

  1. I know 23 years ago, I call into the preaching ministry @ age 13. But didn’t preach my first sermon unil i was 16 of age And then had my ordination until 2000. I had to learn, study, and to proof myself. 2 Timothy 2:15 and then got my first Church.

  2. Rev. G. Bricey Ellis, Jr. | Reply

    Strange Birds in a strange times.

    In TOTAL agreement with you my friend. In this season of change, like you and some of your readers the church has given birth to some very irregular pulpit training practices. Like you, I went through the fire and the rain and mo’ fire before any preaching or teaching went forth. In addition to the elders and the deacons of the church(qualifying my character), I went through eight months ( two to three hours per session ) with my systematic theology-hermanutical teacher, BEFORE he would even make a recommendation to my senior pastor to stand “before men and God” to tell THE STORY. The whole licensing process took about 14 months.

    I then had another year to go through with several hours of more theology, case studies, funerals, weddings, Lord Supper’s, ministerial association meetings and countless services doing various duties…Then and only then AFTER passing the local Association’s Ordination Committee’s question session ( 1.5 hours ) was I allowed to carry the title of “Reverend”. That was in 1976. It is now 2013 and I praise God every
    moment of every minute of training, rebuke, silence, re-and reread the text, “go back and study it again” and ” now pray and wait on Him!”, I have ever had whispered, yelled and mentored into my Spirit.

    If it was good enough for the ol’d folks to pass on to us, surely it good enough for this new and up comming crowd we are called to minister to now.

    It is time for the Eagles to fly otherwise all we will have is chicken’s to roost.

  3. Pastor Houston,
    I completely agree with you. There is something to be said about patience, allowing God, the Pastor, and the community of faith. I think that as a faith community we have failed to allow the “process”, to do what God designed it to do. I think there is something to be said about building faithfulness into young ministers. I recall a time when Pastors were careful that, as young minister’s, one could discern the “proof of our ministry”, evidenced through the process of hard work IN ministry. Perhaps the Body of Christ would suffer LESS embarrassment if persons were required to demonstrate due diligence, patience, and faithfulness versus the implication that God has instituted the INSTANT/MICROWAVE method for ministers/preachers.

    GREAT BLOG THIS WEEK

  4. My Pastor did not ordain any of his associates until we were called to the work of a Pastor. So, I sat under him for seven years before I was called to a local Church as their Pastor and had preached there for two weeks before he scheduled my ordination. I did not understand his ways then, but I most certainly do now! I’m thankful for what he taught me by doing that, because imagine the “Mess” I would have made if he had of done so beforehand? Imagine the arrogance and pride that would have overtaken me if he had ordained me before I was ready for the work! Now if I could just figure out these men we call “Deacons?” O Lord teach me thy ways!

  5. Elder Joshua Richardson | Reply

    I too can agree with the Pastor here in the comments. There has too be a time to cook. I have been in the ministry since January 2001. Just this past November 2013 I was ordained as Elder. There has to be a period of someone who can witness the work, life, and stewardship that the individual carries. It is more than a notion. Patience is very important 12 years passed until I was ordained. In that time made me take my focus off of when, and focus the Now period. Those people who needed a word of encouraging, learning more about this ministry and what it will take. Most importantly being able to be teachable as a minister learning from those seasoned pastors. Now that I am an ordained minister, I believe that the time will come for that next season of ministry. Right now I’m just enjoying the opportunities that may come and supporting my Pastor keeping his hands lifted.
    I have learned that if something happens in a rushed manner, then something is more than likely to be wrong with it.
    Men of God let us allow God to make us the minsters that HE will be pleased with.

    Peace and blessings to you all,
    Elder JT Richardson
    Beaufort, SC

  6. Pastor Houston, I totally agree. So many men and women does not ever want to be under a leader and learn. About five years ago, someone in a ministry that I grew up in, matter of fact ironically, licensed in, would not license this lady. At the time the pastor did not believe in women preachers (another blog comment lol). Last month, a long time member went home to be with Lord and a lot of the former members went to the service. Now, this same woman of God, not only in ministry, but she is a pastor of a new work. I do not have an issue with her beginning a new work at all, but in speaking with her she never sat under another pastor after she left he first ministry, was never licensed, subsequently never ordained. My problem is, her new work has about 100 to 150 members.

    With all it’s being said, the church as a whole should stand up against these license manufactures such as Universal Life, etc……. Who for a nominal fee, you can be ordained to perform weddings etc. I guess my thought would be is when the church going to stand up against things like this. Like the former preachers that commented today, I was licensed after my first sermon, which was scary in itself, 5 years later, I was ordained after accepting my first pastorate, and like previous pastors, I actually pastors this church over a year before scheduled my ordination. Then, as Bishop Morton and a few other Bishops declared about self appointed bishops, located on You-Tube, I was appointed state bishop, then ordained as bishop exactly one year later from appointment, in 2004.

    I thank you for allowing us to comment, I love is forum, been following this ministry for years. Thank You

    Bishop T. Neal Ary

  7. Rev. K. M. Peterson | Reply

    How true you have spoken Pastor. Your own story reminded me so much of this journey of ministry that I have been on. Advising my Pastor and Father in Ministry, that I had a call upon my life, only to be told to go back and make sure that it was God who called you, caused me to even wonder if the call was real. Then for 5 straight months not hearing one word from my Pastor about how I was, the certainty of the call, or anything else from him. I heard nothing but for 5 months not knowing that he was watching me the entire time to see if I continued to drive the church van and pick up members, which I did. Watching to see if I continued to attend Bible Study and teach youth Sunday School, which I did. Watching to see if I remained Faithful in Service to God not the HYPE of a title, which I did, and I say today that I Thank God for Rev. John H. Martin Jr. of Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Pleasantville, NJ to this day for his wisdom in allowing me to “stew” a little to prepare for this task called ministry.

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THE WIRE

by Pastor Robert Earl Houston

H.B. Charles Jr.

About life, preaching, church, books, and other stuff.

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