Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fresh from the Grill...

Big day! I presented my Ordination Paper to my Committee on Church and Ministry this morning. 
This is the meeting where the Committee members review my paper, ask me a LOT of questions about my theology, seminary experience, and ministerial gifts/potential (which I'm expected to answer on the spot, orally), and they then decide whether I'm ready to move on to the next step. The next step will be releasing my "Profile" to the churches that are currently looking for pastors, and scheduling an Ecclesiastical Council - where I will have the privilege of receiving a further grilling by the pastors and members of the local churches in our association. If all goes well there, I will be approved for Ordination "pending call" - which means once I find a job I will be ordained by the church that calls me.

For those who are wondering what kind of questions are asked by the Committee on Church and Ministry when they review an Ordination Paper, here's a sampling of the questions I received:

  • If a congregant asked you what it means to be "born again," how would you respond?
  • What is your cosmic understanding of salvation? 
  • What challenges and/or conflicts have you experienced in ministry?
  • How would you handle a congregant who is difficult to deal with - who is essentially a "pain in the butt" - knowing that their issues stem from a feeling of deep pain?
  • You've said that at times you feel Jesus walking beside you, and you feel the Holy Spirit moving through you, and both are guiding forces - How do you distinguish between the two?
  • Who is your favorite theologian?
  • How do you view the role of pastor in the church, keeping in mind its privileges and responsibilities? 
  • Pastors often wrestle with feelings of loneliness. How have you experienced this in your ministry and how do you expect to deal with it when you have your own church?
  • You used the image of a gardener and talked about "pruning" your theology, "cutting away" what is no longer needed - What elements of your theology have you pruned - both in seminary and prior to that?
  • If you had written your Ordination Paper in your first year of seminary, in what ways would it be different from what you've written now? 
  • If a child came to you and said, "My parents told me that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny don't exist, and now I'm afraid that in a few years I'll find out that God doesn't exist either." - What would you say to that child?

Yikes! There are some tough questions here. And these are just the ones I can remember. But I feel I did an adequate job of answering them (and my pastor and adviser who were both present said I did well, so I'll take their word for it!). 
Having never witnessed one of these grill sessions before I can't say how these questions compare to others that have been asked or how my answers compared to those given by other seminarians.
I'm just glad it's over and I can move on to the next step....I hope! ;)

Another hurdle cleared. 


Marie said...

Yikes! And I thought the GOE's were grueling. Congrats to you, Mo, as you move forward!!

Maureen said...

Thanks, Marie! There was another student who presented his paper right before me and my pastor said afterward that the questions they asked me were a lot tougher than the questions they asked him. She thinks it's because my paper went deeper so they felt comfortable going there. I hope so! ;)
Where are you in your process?