I first started Bible college in 1999 and finished my advanced diploma in 2000. Since then I have completed a chaplaincy course and I have 3 subjects to go to finish a degree in ministry. While I have felt a strong sense of calling to study; I have not felt any pressure to finish it, nor have I felt they are a pathway to success – instead I have seen them as a medium to learn, engage and reflect on ministry and life.
I was saved through the ministry of a charismatic Anglican church. Have fellow-shipped in Presbyterian, Anglican, AOG, Baptist, and CRC churches. Though I am qualified as a chaplain, and have the qualifications for credentialing in many denominations – the only time i have held any credentials is when I was a licensed lay reader for the Anglican church I was a member of. That licence gave me diocesan permission to minister under the direction of the reverend and take services as he allowed.
Apart from that I have never really thought seriously about ordination and other credentials. It’s never prevented me from ministering whether in a church or out in the community. I facilitated regular inter-church prayer meetings for a number of years. Set up a suicide prevention and awareness network between the churches across the Wollindilly Shire. Did my chaplaincy training in a men’s homeless shelter. Have been invited to preach and speak at a variety of churches, conferences, council meetings and to a group of men at Parliament House. And during the last two years have been ministering in the local community using the title of community chaplain and teaching Scripture at a local school. I have plans to take guys bush next year, and also have a program on the books with a primary school,
One problem or if you like, a frustration I had with ordination and credentialing has been that some denominations would not consider me a proper candidate for ordination – and that is rightly so, because we differ on a variety of missional, doctrinal and other issues. On the other hand, there have been other denominations where I could apply for ordination and credentialing; but, I likewise have reservations about their doctrinal, missional and other practices; which means in good faith, I couldn’t in good conscience join for the sake of ordination. And as I have already stated; it was never an issue that prevented me from ministry anyways.
I should note, that I have always felt at home in the church fellowships I have been in. The people have been friendly. The church fellowship lively. And I have made some long lasting friendships in them. And in one church, some members approached me to consider throwing my hat into the ring to become the church pastor, while they were in the process of looking for one.
But, I have been feeling a stir in my inner man for a little while now about the issue of credentialing / ordination. It’s been a prayerful journey. And one that I feel God is telling me its right and proper for me to seek. But, the question has been, where? Today was a first for me. Six months ago we felt prompted to visit a local church and recently we became a member of that church. Today, I had a conversation with our pastor about the credentialing / ordination process. We spoke about the ways their denomination credentialed and covered their pastors and if they did so for chaplains in the community. It was also a milestone. For it signified that I felt I had come home. Its a feeling I have never experienced before in any of the denominations that I have fellow-shipped.
It’s a denomination that is committed to excellent Bible teaching. Indeed, one of the regular teaching pastors at our church is Rev Ken Chant who planted Vision Bible College. He is the brother of Barry Chant who started Tabor College; which likewise is known for its excellent teaching in a variety of disciplines. It’s also a denomination that is committed to the Pentecostal experience. It believes in healing; but, has a good pastoral approach in acknowledging that God doesn’t always heal. It allows for the speaking of tongues in the congregation; but insists on interpretation given. It’s open to every member ministry and invites all to participate – without pressure or control to get with the program. It invites generous giving; without the manipulation of a mini sermon to generate guilt to give more. The worship is lively and yet also God centered. The preaching is varied, and shared by a number of preachers. And there is a commitment to mission, with the first Sunday of the month given over as mission Sunday.
Anyways, ministry is always the work of the Lord. It’s his working through us. It’s he who opens the doors and shuts them. And if the lord calls me to be credentialed, who am I to argue with that.