Tag Archives: ministry

Top Ten Reasons Why I Can’t be a Minister

This next week I will be at Canadian Mennonite University, spending a week with the students there.  I was invited by the university for the purpose of encouraging young adults to think about pastoral ministry as a career option.   As I was preparing for this, I wondered how we at First Mennonite are encouraging our young adults…do we see gifts in them that might lead them to pastoral ministry? Have we ever told them about that?  If you have kids, would you encourage one of your children to be a minister?  Why or why not?

There was a long time where pastoral ministry didn’t seem to be an option for me.  I could easily have written a “Top Ten Reasons Why I Can’t be a Minister” list.   Thinking back, I wrote that out this week, and I’m going to share it with some students next week.  God found a way to meet each of my objections!

  1. I am not as spiritual as a minister should be.
  2. No one has ever told me I should be a minister.
  3. It would be too hard to go to seminary (such as AMBS in Elkhart, Indiana)
  4. I am not as wise or smart as a minster should be.
  5. There is too much politics in the church, not a good career choice.
  6. I am scared of public speaking.
  7. I wouldn’t know what to preach about.
  8. I have already trained for a different career.
  9. I won’t have as much fun in life if I am trying to be holy all the time.
  10. My friends will treat me differently if they know I am a minister.

Please pray this week that God will lead young people into ministry, and that the church will find spaces to nurture their gifts, and accept their leadership.

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Finding a voice

I remember the first time I spoke from a pulpit. It was in my last year of high school. It was a New Years Eve service, which traditionally was a sharing service. Anyone could get up and share something that God had done in their life. I remember the darkness of the building…it was very big, and even with the lights on it was sort of cavernous and shadowy. It was a smaller group than the normal Sunday service, and there was a feeling of joy in the meeting, which was memorable since most services were very solemn and serious. I don’t remember at all what I shared. I know that I had prepared something and took a piece of paper up with me. What I do remember very clearly are the rows of upturned faces. The quietness into which I spoke. The attentiveness. The respectful listening. I had something in my heart about God that I wanted to share, and these people were listening to me. They really listened.

I didn’t run out right then and there and aim to be a pastor. That took around 25 years. But that evening I learned that I was part of the community not just as a listener, but as someone with a voice.

I am thrilled that this Sunday the youth will be in charge of our worship service. I look forward to hearing their voices. I am thrilled when I hear the voice of a young person speak in a membership or church council meeting, when they get up in sharing time, or when they participate by reading scripture. It’s hard to do that sometimes, to get up and participate. I am thrilled because their voice is important, and they are finding their voice in our community.

What I also remember about that first time in the pulpit, is that afterwards people thanked me for sharing. Not just adults I knew, and talked to, like my youth sponsors, but people who had never talked to me before. Suddenly I felt that maybe there was a place for me in this community called the church.

Finding a voice is a two-way process. It’s looking inside and seeing something there that needs to be said, but it’s also looking outside and sensing that people are listening, and want to hear you. Let’s remember that this Sunday.

The Mute’s Testimony

I can’t pray aloud
My tongue flaps
but no sound takes shape.

Can a voiceless prayer
fly out
across space?

When I pray
an enormous ear strains to hear me

swallows in
my tiniest thought.

from “Jesus” by Yorifumi Yaguchi
translated by Ross Bender, Pinchpenny Press, 1989, pp. 21-22.

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Guest Blog – Reflections of a pastoral intern

by Stephanie Dueck

I now have four days left in Vineland. Where did the time go? The three months I have spent with you have gone by so fast! It has been a rich three months. I have experienced so much and learned a great many things.

You may wonder what brought me here… Why do a pastoral internship? Why be a pastor? Well, it happened like this: I was fairly involved with chapel and worship planning for part of my time at Canadian Mennonite University, and people started encouraging me to pursue directions in church work.

I had one particular professor who became a very good mentor. She often encouraged me to do a pastoral internship and ‘just try it out.’ I was very reluctant. First, I was reluctant because I was not sure I had the gifts for ministry. Second, I was reluctant because of my fear of nasty church politics which I have seen and heard too much of.

I did finally decide that it wouldn’t hurt to at least try it out. So here I am, and here I have been for the last three months. I have learned a lot from preparing sermons, from worship leading, visitation and preparing for funerals. I have discovered in part what it is like to be a pastor. I have done what a pastor does, and I have walked alongside Carol Penner who is experienced in pastoral ministry. Carol and I have talked lots and lots about what it means to be a pastor and that has been very meaningful for me.

So what is the verdict? Why be a pastor? Do I want to be a pastor? One question I had in my reluctance to go into pastoral work was, “who am I to think I can guide people, teach them, comfort them, love and inspire them?” I have discovered that no, I certainly could not do all of that on my own, but yes, I could do that with God. If I think about doing this work with God, it is much less overwhelming, and more life-giving. How so? Well, as a pastor you get to share good news with people every week! You get to be with people in significant moments of life: birth, baptism, wedding and funeral. You get to work a lot with people as a pastor, but you also spend time in solitude and prayer. As a pastor spending time in spiritual practices, steeping yourself in scripture, and reading about faith issues is all part of the work!

Pastoral work, when done with God, is life-giving. I have for example, felt God’s peace sweep over me as I worship lead, and I have found joy in getting to know you and talking about life and about God. Maybe pastoral work isn’t such a bad idea!

So where to now? In September I will be studying at Conrad Grebel in Waterloo, working toward a masters in theological studies. I will continue to discern whether I am called to the work of pastoral ministry, and maybe I will stop by now and again to visit the first Mennonite church in Canada.

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Greetings earthlings!

We share the world with other earthlings. Earthlings meaning non-human animals. How do you live with animals?

Some of your minds go immediately to pets we might have living in our houses…dogs, cats, birds, fish, lizards, hamsters. A few of us are farmers, who think of the animals in the barn. Maybe some of us think of animals that are unwanted guests in our homes, like ants or mice or bats..

When I think about living with animals, I look up from my computer here and see my refrigerator, and think about milk and eggs and butter. And then there’s the Styrofoam containers of meat. It’s not exactly living with animals, but more like living from animals, and living from animals dying.

As far as eating goes, I couldn’t have eaten the peach I had for my night snack without the essential help of bees, who pollinated the fruit. Bugs and organisms of all kinds help to make the earth fertile so crops can grow.

So, yes, we all live with animals, but how is this a faith issue? Does it really matter how we treat animals or think about animals? Let me pose a question…if it came to the church’s attention that I had left my dog on a leash in the hot sun without shelter and let him starve to death there, would that jeopardize my ability to be your pastor? Is cruelty to animals incompatible with being a pastor? I have a feeling that a lot of you would have reservations about me if that happened. In choosing your pastor, you want someone who is caring and empathetic…if I could be heartless and cruel to an animal, it would raise questions about my essential character in your minds. Who we are affects how we relate to all living animals.

This Sunday I want to explore what scripture teaches us about animals, and ask some questions about our own relationship with animals. Have you ever heard a sermon about how we should treat animals? I haven’t. Why is that?

This week’s prayer: Help me to see my place in your created world. Help me to see You in this created world.

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