Last week, I got an e-mail from a senior at my undergrad alma mater, Furman University. The alumni office had given her my name as an alum working in the career field in which she is interested. She asked me questions about the skills required for my job, how I got into the field, and the best and worst things about the job. Over dinner that night, I asked my husband the same questions, most pointedly, "If a college senior were considering ministry and asked you whether he or she should pursue ordained ministry in the UMC, what would you say?"
I don't remember his exact words, but the reply wasn't quite what an eager young graduate would want to hear!
A lot of the clergy spouses reading this blog are in the United Methodist Church, and as we've seen through some of our more popular and most commented-on posts, issues like itineracy, guaranteed appointments, and the ordination process are often frustrating to those in ministry in the UMC. Every denomination has its issues (so my husband frequently reminds me!) but there are problems peculiar to the UMC that fuel ongoing debates about the church's future vitality and effectiveness.
There seems to be no shortage of opinions on what the church should do to stem decline, grow vibrant churches, change the world, and nurture effective ministers. One UM leader who hasn't said much publicly on the subject before wants to know your opinion, so I wanted to make you (and your spouses) all aware of this conversation.
Mark Beeson, pastor of Granger Community Church (third largest in the UMC), is somewhat of a controversial figure in the UMC because, frankly, he is pretty different from most UM pastors--or at least his church is pretty different from most UM churches. With the look and feel of a non-denominational, evangelical megachurch, and no cross and flame in sight, many accuse him of hiding the UM "brand." But he is--perhaps surprisingly--very committed to the UMC and passionately wants to revitalize it. He is starting a series on his blog called "Methodist Mondays" to gather insights and spark conversation with others in the denomination.
You can check out the first post here, where he asks the question I posed to my husband the other day: "If someone called to ministry asked you whether they should pursue that calling in the UMC, what would you say?"
Your answer might differ from your spouse's, but our answers to this and the other questions to be asked in the series are quite telling when it comes to the future of ministry in the UMC.