A lot of people ask me if I plan to get back into ministry again. There are two answers to that question: (1) I never left ministry; and (2) I am not able to until certain things happen.
In terms of #1, it is important to remember that every Christ-follower is called to a life of ministry. For me, that never changed. But I recognize that when people ask the question, they mean it as “full time paid vocational ministry”.
To that, all I can say is (1) I don’t know, (2) until certain things happen I don’t think it is possible, and (3) it is about God’s calling (but I don’t think he will call until #2 is taken care of).
I am comfortable doing limited formal ministry these days — pulpit supply, other speaking events (retreats, etc), weddings, both formal and informal consulting, etc. And I hope to be doing more of those things in the future.
But in terms of full time vocational ministry, I believe three things need to take place before that is possible:
(1) Forgiveness from and Reconciliation with my former congregation.
(2) Forgiveness from and Reconciliation with the new pastor at my former congregation.
(3) Forgiveness from and Reconciliation with the congregant that things happened with at my former congregation.
The only one of those that is in process at all is #2. It takes time and intentionality, but the process is moving forward and I am grateful for that.
In terms of #1, while I have of late been able to reconnect with several people from my former congregation — receiving grace and forgiveness, experiencing Biblical reconciliation, even praying together — there is a corporate forgiveness and reconciliation that needs to take place at some point. I patiently pray and wait for that point.
As for #3, forgiveness from and reconciliation with the congregant… that too will take time and is something I pray for daily.
Until those things happen, I feel I am not free to pursue full-time vocational ministry. Jesus called us to be reconciled and to be reconcilers. While I know I am forgiven by God (and many individuals have expressed their forgiveness to me as well), and I know I am reconciled with Jesus (by his cross… my sin did not change that fact), before one can seek a new calling, there needs to be relational reconciliation.
Is it possible that will never happen?
If it never happens does that mean I will never be in full time ministry again?
Yes, I think that is what that means.
If it happens, does that guarantee that I will be?
No, that is about God’s calling.
I pray daily for this… I would covet your prayers as well.