Yeah... not to betray my Baptist roots, but I am considering the possibility of going through the UMC ordination process. For those of you who don't know, it's a long (like 7-8 years minimum) ordeal. Assuming I get through, and assuming the UM system doesn't radically change in that time (which it might), it would mean a 99% guaranteed career. It would also mean that if I go down the elder track, I could be placed anywhere at any kind of church in a variety of positions: solo pastor, associate pastor, etc. I'm not sure I want that. Being the head pastor of a church is not my thing. I'd rather work with youth, college and/or young adults. The other option is the deacon track, but I'd have to find my own jobs (which is ultimately no different than now, and would prevent me from doing some of the things only elders can do), but it might give me the option to do things like college or youth ministry without the worry of where I would be placed.
Aside from the opening up of job prospects (I'd LOVE to be a college chaplain or campus minister, but it seems those jobs require ordination from a denomination more organized than my current Baptist ordination. I'd also enjoy working on the conference level to shape the youth/young adults branch of ministry), there are the other benefits- housing, pension, etc. I hate to sound so mercenary, but that's part of the deal, and a sizable part.
So right now, I'm weighing options and trying to discern what the right thing to do actually is. The process is LONG, so it wouldn't really impact my current job (don't worry, anyone from Mount Pleasant who reads this- it wouldn't be finished for many years). There's a great deal of paperwork, testing, meetings and writing that I would have to do. And I still have to determine which track to pursue, if any.
On an ideological level, I'm trying to determine if I can reconcile my own beliefs with those of the UMC. Theologically, I don't see a great deal of a problem (I realized in seminary that I was quite a Wesleyan Baptist), but polity-wise, I have more questions. I've talked with Jill about this, and am thinking about meeting with some other UMC people here in Indiana that I know who have similar jobs/passions as I do (other youth ministers, college ministers, conference people) and talking to them.
I'll keep you updated. Once I figure out what I'm thinking...