I Had a Good Experience with the Board of Ministry

Lately, there have been several posts on the Methoblogosphere about horrible experiences with the Board of Ministry.  Here is the most recent one I’ve read.  Even though I don’t know Will personally, the post seems pretty level headed and a genuine mistake on part of that board.  It seems that many folks have chimed in with horror stories about the Board of Ministry.

In fact, I have been hesitant to post my experience becuase for the most part it was positive.   The PPRC of my local Church asked all the right questions about my call, and would have been willing to share the hard truth if they believed I didn’t have a call to ministry.  My District Committee was encouraging and asked appropriately probing questions.  The BOM was rigorous and thorough, but I never got the sense that they were out to get me.

I’m not without complaints.  Yes, the process was really, really long.  Yes, I did have to know the process better than anyone else (including the board) and work hard to stay in contact with my conference while I was in seminary.  It wasn’t an accidental process by any means.

Our BOM retreats provided opportunities for me not only to get to know my fellow commissioned elders, they gave me time to get to know my interview team – several of whom I now consider to be friends.  My interview process allowed me to tell my story enough times that I am very comfortable talking about my call to ministry at the drop of a hat.  In fact, it’s my opening story as I teach in various Sunday School classes now.  The process allowed me to see how ministry shaped my theology following seminary, and I believe I was challenged in some places where I needed challenging and affirmed in some places where I needed affirmation.  In fact, I believe an authentic call to ministry is essential in sustaining a ministry during difficult times, and I thank the board for helping me discern God’s call in my life.

This isn’t a commentary on those who have had horrible experiences.  I don’t doubt their disappointment or experience.  I just want to lift up the fact that this experience isn’t ubiquitous.  No one lost any of my information, no one questioned my sincerity, and no one treated me as though I was anything less than a future colleague in ministry.

I want the BOM to continue to ask tough questions.  If I’m ever on the board one of the very subjective questions I’ll ask myself is this, “Would I want my son or daughter attending a congregation where this person is an Elder?”  If I can’t say yes, then I’ll think long and hard about whether or not to support them.  Granted, this should take place at the local church, and early on in consultation with their pastor.  But if that step is left out, I won’t be afraid to step in and ask it.

I would start to wonder if my experience might be the exception if I didn’t know that several of my friends (friends with a variety of experiences in early ministry, good and bad) have had similar experiences.  Hopefully this gives at least one positive experience to read among all the others.

11 thoughts on “I Had a Good Experience with the Board of Ministry

  1. It is easy to get carried away in our complaints and criticism of the BOM. I’ve had good experiences with the BOM and an horrible experience with my DCOM.

    I honestly do appreciate the tough questions that they will ask when it’s my turn to go through all this. Often times, those questions seem a little easier compared to what the youth and young adults often ask in their struggle to get to know God.
    I also pray that, as they are asking hard questions to us, that they also ask hard questions about the whole process and themselves, so that iron sharpens iron, so to speak.

  2. Matt, thank you for posting this. I was beginning to think it was Lord of the Flies out there.

  3. As one who is new on the BOM (80% of our BOM is new this year) I am proud to say we are trying hard to ask the hard questions about the process and of ourselves. Of course, there are numerous theological differences of members of the BOM and of candidates, but there is a genuine desire to follow God’s direction. It is difficult to try to transform the BOM into a more effective ministry when so much of our time is taken up with dysfunctional theology or ineffective ministry of candidates, but we are trying. I have yet to find a member of the BOM who is trying to promote his/her agenda.
    I too, had a pretty good experience when I went through the process, outside of some who berated me because of my choice of the seminary I attended. I think we have finally moved beyond the idea that the BOM is supposed to be adversarial. We are genuinely trying to determine future effectiveness of beginning clergy.
    I have found that the entire process has been extremely beneficial in my 10 years of ministry. Through the process I learned how to fill out paper work, get it in on time, be aggressive in making sure everything was in order, verbalize my theology in a high tensity situation, and patience. The process is long, but our ordination is for life. Our call is always communal. It is personal, but not private. We must be willing to submit to not only God’s call on our lives, but the Church’s confirmation of that call. I pray that all BOMs have moved from an aggressive attitude to one of nourishment and training.

  4. Hey Matt! It’s been a long time since Asbury, and I’m so glad I just happened upon your blog the other day! I’m right where you are when it comes to the BOM. I had a very good experience with my commissioning interviews last year. It’s not an easy job, and I definitely don’t want to be on it any time soon. But it’s an important one, and I don’t get the sense that they are “out to get” somebody. I think they just take their task seriously. Of course, there may be a few with axes to grind, but definitely not enough to cause major problems across the board.


  5. Matt,

    Thanks for posting this. As one who will go through the BOM interview in March with the hope to be commissioned in May, the horror stories have made me anxious. I have so far been impressed with this particular BOM in Oklahoma and am looking forward to my interview then. (From my conversations with others, I think the Oklahoma BOM is easier to work with than some other boards.) I think the question you ask at the end is very fitting, and one that I hope to have answered in the affirmative soon. Thanks for the addition to the conversation.


  6. I’m glad there are folks with good experiences, but BOMs differ from conference to conference. Without naming names, there are some conference BOMs that just plain don’t believe in grace.

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