Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Thoughts on Leaving the Ministry

It’s peculiar how I was a lay speaker and how I routinely (at least annually) turned down opportunities to pastor a church. Mind you, in rural areas it is very common for a lay speaker to take a pastoral role because there are insufficient elders (official pastors) to take care of the small churches. While I routinely said “No” to the offer to pastor a church we got a new district superintendent. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. So, I took on a church…then another church. And now I look at the prospect of perhaps taking on another church. I’m done. Finished. Put to pasture.

I took on the pastoral task as a favor to the district in which I serve. Done it and have many T-shirts to show for it. But as of this summer at the annual conference, there will be a new pastor appointed to my church. I’m through “pretending” to be a minister when I’m merely a certified lay speaker. I’m announcing my resignation at our District Committed On Ministry meeting January 8th. It is with some regret yet some empowerment that I make my position known. Me, a regular parishioner, stepped up and answered the calling from the “boss” over the district to do him a favor. Two and a half years later, I feel I’ve answered that request and am calling it quits.

My calling is NOT into the pastoral ministry. My calling is to pray for people to be healed and receive Christ into their hearts. The weekly demand of coming up with a sermon and conducting services of worship IS NOT what I’m called to do. I’ve come to grips with this and am acting in accordance with this reality check.

So, “Brother Marty, pastor at Midway UMC” will no longer be my title. I will have no title and be empowered by that. I’ll just be that member of a congregation who has a gift and is willing to share that gift with anyone who comes forward to accept the power of Christ’s love into their lives. Nothing “official” from a pulpit…just me.

So, I thank those who may read this for their surrender of their lives to be set aside for the furtherment of the faith. I’m not set aside. I’m a bi…make that Tri-vocational Certified Speaker who stepped up when the call was made who has now determined that it is time to step down and become one who looks to the likes of You for empowerment and encouragement. I’m so terribly humbled to know the many pastors I’ve met in this short time I’ve been lifted up to be called a member of clergy. I’m not. Just a lay speaker who took a turn at being a pastor.

In the love of Christ….

Marty (NOT brother Marty)

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