How do you conceive your vocation as an ordained minister?
There are a number of ways in which I feel I am “supposed” to answer this question. For instance, I am called to make disciples or I am called to shepherd or I am called to sacramental authority. These understandings are correct and not mutually exclusive of the other in my understanding of my vocation, however they are also rather unimaginative and to write about these areas does not embody the larger sense of my vocation as an ordained minister.
The best language I have to describe my vocation is one of a “cultural architect”. That is to say I believe that as an ordained clergy in the UMC I am called to help usher in a certain culture which the Spirit of God inaugurated in the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus called it the
, which I think is still a good name for this alternate culture. It is my understanding there are at least two steps I am called to use in order to help usher in this culture of the Kingdom of God (KoG): Language creation and storytelling. Kingdom of God
The first thing that is required for any culture that is created is the creation of language. The culture of technology has a unique language. The culture of the medical field has a unique language. The culture of the church has a unique language. When I look to the teachings of Jesus I notice he is using new language to describe the KoG culture. He stated things such as: the first will be last and the last will be first; you shall love the enemy; turn the other cheek; small faith moves mountains; give to God what is God’s. All of this new language was because Jesus was creating a new culture and in order for that new culture to take root in the dominate culture, people have to be able to talk about it – we need language unique to the culture we are trying to make. Under the age of Christendom the Christian language was interwoven in the dominate culture, however this has changed as Christianity no longer has the “privileged” position in culture as it once had. And so I believe my vocation as an ordained minister is to help create, promote and nurture the language of the KoG in order to help the culture of the KoG continue to take root and grow.Second, it is vitally important that the creation and propagation of language of a culture be expressed in compelling ways so others who are new to the culture can understand. There is a reason the culture of the State and the “American” culture is so pronounced; these two cultures have discovered how to tell their stories in compelling ways that captivate people. Through things like the “American dream” or the “Self made man” story, even the outsider can understand the culture and begin to accept and live in that culture. We have arguably the greatest story ever told, and yet we have lost the art of story telling and cheapened the story of God to be a story of morals and being nice. It is my understanding of my vocation that I am to be a story teller so that the mission of God might continue to come into being and the KoG culture will grow. Therefore, in order to help shepherd and co-create disciples of Jesus Christ through the sacramental authority given to me by God and the UMC, it is my understanding that I am called first and foremost to help usher in the culture of God and be (as Jesus was) a “cultural architect”.