Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Withdrawn

I am no longer a liscenced minister in the Wesleyan church.

No, nothing happened, just a lot of thinking and praying. I've learned a lot of things over the past two years, and part of what I learned is that the Wesleyan church isn't really a fit for me.

First off, let me say that I see denominations as helpful, but not essential. In fact, if you look at 1st Corinthians and all the problems that were caused by people aligning themselves to different teachers, denominations can be a bad thing. They're helpful in that they bring people together who have similar tastes in regards to certain issues. That keeps people from arguing over some things (altho if one looks hard enough they can find anything to argue about...) and keeps some sense of unity. That's a very good thing.

So why did I become Wesleyan? So I could be ordained. Not that I couldn't be ordained outside of the Wesleyan church, it just seemed an easy route to go, especially since I was going to a Wesleayan college. I felt a call into ministry, and took the pastroal program, and ordination seemed like the natural conclusion.

Except that things didn't go the way I planned. I did church ministry, and I enjoyed it, but a lot of my passion was lost. It became work. I wasn't able to do what I was truly passionate about, and couldn't force myself to be passionate about what I needed to do. It didn't feel like ministry anymore.

When I felt led to step down before Hana was born I was a mess. I thought God was removing my call, or that it was some sort of test, or that if I did step down I would be failing somehow. I was so wrong. Since taking that pressure off myself I've been so much happier, so much more passionate. I've been able to study and learn and share and build relationships. I've been able to get to know people, really know them without an agenda (because whenever you church plant, no matter how noble your intentions may be, getting people in the building is a big pressure).

So a lot of my ideas and assumptions have changed. I will still be doing full time ministry, just not traditional church ministry, at least not anywhere in the near future. I've also had to reevaluate being a member of the denomination. I always had hesitancies about some of the membership commitments in the denomination (and I've learned many others have the same hesitations, so maybe eventually those things will change), but was able to put them aside. I was able to uphold them for the sake of my integrity - standing for the things I had said I would. Now I've realized that it better serves my integirity to not align myself with something I don't agree with.

I don't know what I'm going to do now. Well, I do, I'm going to be a wife and mother and friend and teacher and helper and do all I can to be Jesus to everyone in my life. As for a career, I'm not sure. I've always been drawn to counceling. I have a lot of admiration for Social Workers. I love being a full time mom. No matter what I do I will be ministering. I will be partnering with churches and will be involved in structured ministry - children's church, small groups, missions.

This whole thing has been going on since January, actually it all really started last summer when I felt the need to step back from The Summit. Ben has been amazing through the whole process. So supportive and always reminding me that God will lead us, that His plans are higher than ours. He's reminded me that I never planned on being Wesleyan in the first place, and has pointed out how much more connected to God and my passions I have been in the last few months. He's such an amazing husband and father, I'm so blessed to have him.

I have such a peace about this. It was scary at first, wondering what will happen and where it will lead us, but the good kind of scary, the scary that makes me in awe of God's love and provision and providence. We're excited to see where God leads us.

5 comments:

Lindy said...

I'm glad that you have peace about your decision Steph. I can understand very well how hard it was to do that plant. Luke and I were close to making the same decision, but we felt that even though we didn't have any feelings, passions, or desire to go back into church ministry, and we didn't feel even the slightest bit of "The call" we had to be faithful to what God told us to do when we were hearing him clearly.

I'm glad that we did, and I know that eventually you will do. For now do the mom thing and enjoy it. Remember how lucky you are to have the privilage of staying home with your kids full time. It's a great gift.

Steph said...

Thanks Lindy, but this isn't just about the plant. Yes, it was difficult, but there were a lot of wonderful things I learned that I will take with me in whatever ministry I do.

This is about gaining a better understanding of my call and where God wants me, and for now church ministry isn't it. It might be again some day in the future, but for at least the next 5 years (I don't plan on doing any full time work until our youngest is in school) it isn't. I know I'm following God's leading on this. I'm not regretting starting the path to ordination, or being part of the Summit at all, there were things I needed to learn from that, and now I'm ready for whatever God has for me next.

Elliott said...

Kudos for your decision and integrity. I won't be resigning my post as a minister in the WC anytime soon, but I support your decision.

Lindy said...

I know. I think you are doing the right thing.

Jo said...

I support your decision too!