No doubt partly because I'm currently serving on the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) of my church, I've been giving lots of thought lately to how communities of faith raise up leaders, especially people who become members of the clergy.
This is not a new subject for me. I've served on a PNC before and I've served on a committee of our regional Presbyterian governing body that oversees our seminary students.
But I'm not sure local churches do very well in identifying good candidates for ministry and helping them determine whether they might really have a call to ministry.
It should be an excellent opportunity for learning how to get more people thinking about the development and calling of clergy. Besides, any conference at which one of the speakers is Walter Brueggemann, professor emeritus of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary in Georgia, will be worth attending. He's a wonderful scholar and an excellent speaker.
In my experience, the clergy often attracts people I would call "wounded healers," which is to say people who have not resolved lots of things in their own lives and seek to do it while helping others. It's not a good approach to ministry and faith communities often suffer for it.
The difficulty is not just to tell someone like that "no" when she or he wants to become a member of the clergy, it's also to find an appropriate outlet for the person's legitimate desire to help others. A desire to help others is necessary but is far from the only requirement for becoming a member of the clergy. And it may be not even near the top of the list of requirements.
So, as I say, I'm glad the Fund for Theological Education is thinking about all this and trying to help.
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OPEN YOUR BIBLES, CHILDREN
There's another Bible-in-the-classroom fight going on. This one is in Idaho, and if this report is correct, it looks as if the people who run a charter school there are making proper use of the Bible as a teaching tool, meaning they're not using it to promote one or another religion in a public school. There's no reason the Bible can't -- and shouldn't -- be used in public schools as a teaching resource, as long as constitutional barriers are respected.