Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Ordination humor points

Ordination is part of the transition process.  Period.

(Or transfer of ordination, if you are already ordained.)

This is something that many guys miss, and don't account for in their process.  But as I've blogged about before, if you fail to attend to the steps leading to it you can curtail your progress in candidacy.

As I've been thinking about issues over the last two days, a few anecdotes of how guys have dealt with tough questions during ordination have come to mind.
  • One Pastor, already ordained, was transferring into a Presbytery that had faced division about Theonomy (more help here) in the past.  Thus, at one point in his already abnormally tense ordination exam, he was asked about his views on Theonomy.  He paused for a moment, then responded, "Isn't that an Italian dish?"  As the laughter subsided someone else asked a different question, and he managed to avoid discussing Theonomy altogether.
  • Another Pastor, ordained in another denomination, was seeking ordination in the PCA.  This was in 2001, when Regis Philbin's Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? was at the height of popularity (it actually appeared five nights in a row, every week, for a while).  He, too, was asked a difficult question, and one that he wasn't sure of the answer to, so he said, "I'd like to use my 'Phone-a-Friend!'"  While he didn't get away without answering the question, he had softened his examiners to his uncertainty.
  • One Presbytery had within it a seminary that provided the Presbytery with more than its share of Candidates, Interns, and Licentiates.  Thus, a Pastor I knew had been warned to keep his testimony of faith brief; they didn't need to hear a long life-story, they said.  When the time came, he stood and was asked for his testimony of faith and of calling to the ministry.  He responded, "I'm a sinner, I love jesus, and I want to serve Him."  That was a bit briefer than they had expected, and they were so flustered they just moved on.
In no way am I advocating that those being examined for ordination take difficult (or even easy) questions lightly, nor should they try to avoid them with humor.

On the other hand, one thing these tales illustrate is that a little humor, well-placed and coupled with a willingness to do more than be funny (e.g., actually answering the question), can ease tensions and make ordination much more brotherly.

[Note: this post is dedicated to my friend Jon, who stood for and passed his Presbytery floor exams for ordination last Saturday.  Congratulations, Jon!]

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