Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Vision of/for Ministry

Note from the seat... I want to posit my personal vision for the bi-vocational ministry over the next few installments. Tonight's installment gives us the introduction to the paper.

INTRODUCTION. Asking someone to describe their vision of/for ministry will bring a wide variety of answers. These answers may also vary dramatically where the individual is in their journey of the faith. My own answer has evolved considerably since 1989. I’m confident that this vision will continue to be refined with time, maturity and the sanctifying Hand of God.

An important fact needs to be established at the beginning of this proposition; this is not “my ministry”. This service belongs to the LORD, of which He’s granted me stewardship. From eternity past, our Lord saw fit to choose me, not according to my merit, but according to the riches of His glory. It’s in this greater calling that the Lord called me to serve His saints. As well as those He has predestined to sonship in Christ Jesus.

I became acutely aware of this call early in life but had no way of quantifying it. I wasn’t alone in discerning this call; my grandfather was aware of God’s hand on me from birth. It would take some time, but I responded to the Lord’s call to service in 1988, with the blessing of my pastor, Albert Pickerall. I came under the leadership of my first true mentor in 1990. Over the next two years, Dr. Charles E. Crissey placed me in a rigid program of study in preparation for entry into vocational ministry. Upon completion of my examinations, I was licensed as an Exhorter within the Church of God, Cleveland Tennessee. I would serve within this church until 2003 when I had to step away from the denomination for theological reasons.

My original vision of/for ministry was strongly influenced by the Church of God. Unfortunately, this was a denomination steeped in Arminian/Semi-Pelagian (Pelagian) theology, and strongly influenced by the waves of aberrant teaching that was becoming rife within neo-charismatic circles. I initially attempted to stay in step with the teaching and doctrines of my church. This would become increasingly harder as waves of aberrant teachings became woven into the denominational fabric. (Though unaware at the time, I had already begun to adopt the spirit of “Semper Reformata”).

This theological crisis started to reach a boiling point in 2003. I was seeing the hollowness of Arminian/Pelagian theology. I saw how those under the yoke of this worldview were being bound in an insipid for of legalism which left them spiritually weak and immature. Adherents were bound in an anthrocentric faith that placed far greater weight on the experiential and the esoteric than it did on the full counsel of God. In my final analysis, there was a mere degree of separation between the Church of God, and the Roman Catholic Church which they would strongly repudiate. I could no longer defend the doctrines of Cleveland Tennessee, and subsequently resigned from my pastoral responsibilities in October 2003.

God’s providential hand led me back to the Anglican Communion in March 2005. It was a communion in crisis thanks to the course undertaken by the Episcopal Church (ECUSA).
So now the stage is set; I’m now on the verge of returning to bi-vocational ministry in a Reformed Anglican community.

1 comment:

Joel said...

Interesting to hear of your journey Andy.