Walking the line between nerd and cool.

To Be or Not To Be

It would seem I have two options for becoming a pastor:

  1. The Traditional Route: Go to school at St. Catherine’s and finish in 6 more years.  It involves taking classes at my current pace.  That means a 3-6 hours/week for driving, 6 for class and about 10 for homework.  That’s 19-22 hours/week, roughly 35 weeks/year.
  2. Specific Ministry Plan: I join a startup program that looks to ordain pastors for specific ministries.  It’s not the same as a full ordination, but leads to full with additional time on the end.  There would be 5 classes/year for 4 years taken online with more flexible hours, plus 4 classes at the St. Louis Seminary in a one-week, intense fashion.  Homework and class time should be about the same, but there’s essentially no driving.  After those first 4 years, I could continue towards full ordination, which would take another 2 years with a similar schedule.  At least, that’s what they are saying now.  It could be that by the time I finish the program, its up to 3 years to finish the M.Div.  We have no way of knowing for certain now what that time commitment will be or what it will look like.

I was hoping there was still something in the 3-4 year range for full ordination, but I guess not.  Now I need to decide if it’s something I want to (and can) pursue and if the church wants to go for it as well. 

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9 responses

  1. Eric F

    From someone who has thought/is thinking about going back to school for a masters (now that I have two jobs and 4 kids), I would say don’t short change yourself. It’s much easier to do it now, even with your responsiblities at church, than it will be later (And we’ll ignore the fact that I sound like the old guy!!!) Distance learning with St. Louis may be the way to go – the driving is a big thing (I know that from experience too), so elminating that would be huge! Not to mention getting across the border, which is getting increasingly more…um…interesting. It also sounds like a quicker – albeit narrower – program. Was your ultimate goal full ordination?

    My two cents (if it’s worth that much) is that this seemed to be something you wanted, so do it! But ultimately, the decision rests with you and God and what He has called you to. I’ll be in prayer for your decision.

    January 31, 2008 at 8:57 pm

  2. Tim

    It sounds like something has changed from the last plan I heard. Lets talk some and pray a lot before any major decisions. Tim

    February 1, 2008 at 9:06 am

  3. Thanks for the comments! We’ve always been hoping for something faster than 6 years. Yesterday I had a meeting with David Bernard from the Eastern District about the alternate path we were hoping would be shorter. It’s not, so now we need to decide between the two or to do nothing at all. I have several weeks to decide and still get into the SMP program, so there’s not a huge time rush right now.

    February 1, 2008 at 9:51 am

  4. Karen Cassidy

    Jason –
    I sympathize with you. I hate making decisions! It is so hard to know God’s will. I will pray for GOd’s guidance for you and I hope you have many others in prayer for you as well.
    Through many decisions in my life I sometimes feel I must be a slow learner becuase God has had to teach me some things OVER AND OVER! Perhaps they will be of use to you.
    1. His timing is never the same as my timing.
    2. His plan is always better than mine.
    3. My impatience usually means I am not satisifed with either HIs plan or HIs timing and I think I have a better way.
    4. Even though I always want everything planned out to the tiniest detail for the next 10 years – God is showing me that learning to live with uncertainty is part of learning to trust Him more.
    5. God uses the most unexpected situations, events, and people to help me make decisions.
    6. NO matter what I decide God will always bring good for me.
    May God give you a special measure of HIs wisdom and guidance – and may you be open to His leading.

    February 1, 2008 at 10:16 am

  5. Chris Hartnett

    Jason,
    Decisions like this are so challanging. I am not going to come close to being as eloquent as Karen was in her post, so I wont even try. I agree with everything she says.

    I am confident that God’s plan is there, even if we dont understand it or see it fully. I will keep you in prayer and would love to talk with you about this if it would be helpful.

    Chris

    February 1, 2008 at 11:08 am

  6. Hey – just a short post from a guy that’s much older than Eric and has his Master’s degree already. (and sorry, I went straight through and got it full time in 2 years after my undergrad, because I didn’t want to be working full time and taking years to get it!)

    Here’s an interesting question. Deep, deep down do you want to be a Pastor? Do you have the skills and temperment for doing ALL the things a Pastor has to do? List all the reasons why you want to do this. As you know there are tons of other ways you can serve the Lord. Then list all of the things you like to do most and think you are the most effective in, in order of skills/enjoyment. Do the lists match? Then look at the 2nd list of your skills. Does it look like a Pastor’s job description? If not then pray about what kind of a job it does look like. I’m not trying to discourage you from continuing on, but I’m constantly amazed at how many people never do a skills/talents/attitude inventory or question the direction in which they are headed.

    Oh and what about your personal goals, or Jaime’s? You cannot ignore those either.

    As Karen so eloquently said, “His plan is always better than mine”.

    I hope this helped more than confused the situation.

    February 1, 2008 at 11:33 am

  7. The hard part about deciding what to do is that I have wanted to pursue becoming a pastor, but I always assumed it would happen in the future. I’d leave my job and go back to school full-time towards becoming a pastor, doing it the “traditional” way. When the possibility arose for doing it simultaneous with my existing Call and ministry, I was really excited.

    Now, my perspective and hoped for “best case” is to do it while working full-time, but do it in a couple of years, not six. I appreciate the comments and feedback from everyone, and most especially the prayers, as I look at what God is calling me to do at this time.

    February 1, 2008 at 3:15 pm

  8. Jaime

    Hey Jason, you are sure blessed to have so many people who care about you. 🙂 I love our church!

    Joe’s response made me realize how little people know about the seeking you’ve done so far regarding this. To respond to Joe — I guess we just don’t talk about it a lot outside of our home conversations… but Jason becoming a pastor has been something we have talked and thought and pondered and prayed and analyzed over for quite some time. It’s been very fun for me, as a part-observer, part-participator, to watch God lead Jason in this so far. And it’s been very fun to watch God develop and hone skills in Jason. I’m sure that if God continues to lead Jason into the pastoral ministry, some areas will be more challenging than others… but that’s part of being human. I’ve got no idea where God’s going with this…but I can assure you that this has certainly not been a lark, or something pursued without prayer or forethought.

    As far as our personal goals… we have lots. But to paraphrase just about everyone who has posted so far… God’s goals for us are often a lot different than our goals for us. That thought especially crossed my mind this morning as I was scraping ice off my car, when I could be living in Texas. 😉

    February 1, 2008 at 6:42 pm

  9. Eric F

    Hey Jaime…I think all of us think that this time of the year!!! 🙂

    This conversation is actually a good reflection for some decisions I have to make in my own life too. I think the truly amazing thing about God is that he not only brings us to these points of faith (which is really what it is when we come down to it – are we going to follow Him in faith…conventional wisdom asidce?), but we find that we are not alone in that struggle. Others have been there, others will be there, and some are right with us. Guess that’s part of what being the body of Christ is all about!

    Thanks – I now have stuff to think about too…in addition to praying for Jason (and Jaime too! :))

    February 1, 2008 at 10:09 pm

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