The Rev. Timothy Cargal, Ph.D., serves as Assistant Stated Clerk for Preparation for Ministry in Mid Council Ministries of the Office of the General Assembly.
“... the Land that I Will Show You” is the blog of the Office of Preparation for Ministry of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). This blog is designed to serve as a resource for those discerning and preparing for a call to the ministry of Word and Sacrament as ordained teaching elders of the church. It will also provide a place for reflecting on and dialoging about the changing context of pastoral ministry in the early 21st century.
For quick announcements about changes or developments in the preparation process, dates related to exams or other key events, discussion boards, surveys, etc., you can follow us on Facebook at “Preparing for Presbyterian Ministry.”
One of the most familiar “call stories” in all of Holy Scripture—God’s call to Abraham to leave homeland and family and, “Go ... to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1)—gives this new blog its name. It is in some ways, if you think about it, an unusual call story to associate specifically with a call to pastoral ministry.
Scripture does say that through Abraham’s presence in that “land” and the increase of his “family” there, “all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (12:2-3). Yet there are other Bible stories that seem more directly related to discerning and preparing for a call to the specific ministry of Word and Sacrament. Stories about God’s call of certain prophets in the Old Testament or Jesus’ call of the disciples come quickly to mind.
So why is Abraham’s call to “the land that I will show you” serving as the theme for this blog when Abraham isn’t being sent by God to do direct ministry or deliver a specific word? Because the most important thing to realize about ministry in the early 21st century is that we are all entering an unchartered and constantly changing field where the only certainty is a faith like Abraham’s that it is God who is leading us and will show us the way.
Ministry in the 21st century is a new land that will be different than the 20th century in which we spent our childhoods, youth, and (for many in the process) some portion of our adult lives. But it is not—despite the cries of some—a “God-forsaken land.” The Spirit is still active throughout the world, calling people to “glorify God and enjoy him forever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism, question 1) as they serve one another in ministry. Those feeling the Spirit’s tug toward discerning and preparing for ministry of Word and Sacrament know that truth personally.
So through these posts and comments you will offer on them, we will explore this new “land” of ministry. We will consider how best to prepare to live in this changing ministry context through the development of the “talents” God has entrusted to us (Matthew 25:14-30). We will consider both the challenges and the opportunities that it provides. And we will do it in faith that God will be with us and show us the way.