Home > Youth Ministry > Should Youth Ministers pursue Ordination? Maybe

Should Youth Ministers pursue Ordination? Maybe

Last week I attended a ordination mentor training so that I could serve others by helping them navigate the sometimes difficult and challenging process of pursuing ordination.  I tweeted during the training – Does the UMC encourage or discourage ordination with its process?  I got a lot of responses to the tweet and a few questions from those thinking about pursuing ordination that I thought I would briefly address today.

In September I shared my article on Professional Youth Ministry: A Changing Landscape that looks at the knowledge and experience that I believe forms a youth minister.  But ordination is not about formation, its about calling!

“God does not call the equipped, but equips the called.” someone smarter than me. Thanks be to God!

Called to Youth Ministry or Ordination

I want to begin by apologizing to my evangelical friends who come from traditions where your calling legitimizes your ordination and you can be ordained without seminary.  This article is not for you.  In many traditions including the UMC, pursuing ordination can be a 10 year process.  Ordination requires education, exploration, affirmation, examination, determination, frustration, and hopefully separation. So why do it?

The only reason to do it is because God Almighty called you.

Don’t do it for:

A Raise

For Respect

For Someone Else

So that you can baptize youth

Is a call to youth ministry a call to ordination?  NO!  Is a call to church leadership a call to ordination? NO!

A call to ordination is a call to word, service, order, and sacraments. Or if you pursue ordination as a deacon, then it is a call to word and service.

Word – to preach and teach God’s word to God’s people

Order – to discern God’s direction for the church and to lead the congregation

Service – to connect the church to the world

Sacraments – to be set apart as a vehicle that delivers God’s grace through the sacraments.

Can you be called to minister to young people and not to these things?  Absolutely!  Can you be called to minister to youth and these things?  Absolutely!

Ordination brings a larger spectrum of responsibilities as you serve the church.  These responsibilities do not make an ordained person a better youth minister.  They mean that someone has been called to them.

I am an ordained deacon in the UMC.  I recognized my call to youth ministry before recognizing my call to ordained ministry.  I love the call of the deacon to connect the church and the world through word and service.  I’ll share more about that soon.  My collective call incorporates both these calls.  They are both an important part of who I am.

If you are considering ordained ministry, I hope you will invite others to speak into your life as you prayerfully consider whether God is calling you to be set apart in this way.

Ordination will not make you a better youth minister.  Seminary training might, but the act of being ordained does not make one youth minister better than another.

Growing Together:

How have you grown in your understanding of your call?  How has your call to ordination or not shaped your understanding of your call?

  1. lauren
    October 27, 2010 at 9:56 am

    I think that through the (frustrating) process. I have had more time to discern my call (ok so props umc). i will say that is an advantage of all the steps and processes. i will also say that working through the process w/ my candidacy mentor she has helped me to reflect on my calling and my responsibilities of answering that call. (previously i had no idea of the IMPORTANCE of serving the sacraments). i’ve really enjoyed the last few tweets you’ve had. i like the ones that make you think.
    keep it up deech

    • October 27, 2010 at 10:35 am

      Lauren, I’m glad that the UMC is helping you grow in your understanding of your call.

  2. Sara Tate
    October 27, 2010 at 9:56 am

    I remember first being called to youth ministry (and thought youth ministers needed to be ordained). It wasn’t until I was in seminary that I realized my insatiable passion for the sacraments. I’ve developed this thought process that ones call can evolve. Therefore I’m “enlisting” in ordination. I do, however, strongly believe that youth ministers need a thorough theological education–seminary or something similar. Good post!

  3. October 27, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Sara – I love that God is continuing to reveal His plans for you and that I get to watch.

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