Thinking Out Loud

March 5, 2013

Online Ordination Organizations Offer Sketchy Screening

Filed under: Church, education, ministry — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:58 am

Wanna become an ordained minister in the next 24 hours?  If you do, the odds are that you’re doing it so you can perform weddings and funerals and enjoy the financial windfall that comes from officiating at those rites. Furthermore, a lot of people looking to do weddings are getting into the biz just so they perform same-sex ceremonies.

But what if you’re looking for something that at least suggests it might have credibility?

Decades ago, there was a classified ad in Rolling Stone where, for $2.00, I could become ordained in something I think was called the “Mother Earth Church.” On Sunday night, I was ready to respond to that, or any other solicitation if it meant acceptance into the secret club.

Well, one secret club. We were talking about how recently certain people had gained admittance  into a generally closed meeting based on some past certification and credentialing.

I have an unfilled wish to be in vocational ministry. And I also have a wish not to be in pastoral ministry. In many respects I am in full-time ministry, albeit absent the paycheck. I should be content with that, right?

But it goes unrecognized. Even the church I lay-pastored for nearly two years was never officially sanctioned by the clergy establishment of that town. I don’t want to perform weddings. I don’t want a title. I just want to see people in lay-ministry recognized for what they do. Without having to learn the secret handshake.

So I spent an hour online researching various Evangelical Christian groups that recognize the work people are already doing. Originally out of frustration. Just to dream about this was the most energized hour of my entire week. There are some good organizations that aren’t looking to make a fast dollar, and want to see some kind of statement of faith and testimony before they ship you the certificate.

My calling from God?  It’s in the mail.

And then there was this one, which got me as far as starting to click on some online forms. For this one, you had to establish a login, create a password and… well it was the verification hint that got to me:

Online Ordination Form

…And here’s the thing: I’m pretty sure the right answer is squirrel.*

For those who don’t get the last line…

* One Sunday a pastor was using squirrels for an object lesson for the children. He started, “I’m going to describe something, and I want you to raise your hand when you know what it is.” The children nodded eagerly.

“This thing lives in trees (pause) and eats nuts (pause)…” No hands went up. “And it is gray (pause) and has a long bushy tail (pause)…” The children were looking at each other nervously, but still no hands raised. “It jumps from branch to branch (pause) and chatters and flips its tail when it’s excited (pause)…”

Finally one little boy tentatively raised his hand. The pastor quickly called on him. “Well,” said the boy, “I know the answer must be ‘Jesus’ … but it sure sounds like a squirrel!”


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