"Celebrating the Ministry"

Jeff R. Rada

Christian Standard, the prominent Independent Christian Church (North American Christian Convention Associated) weekly, had its Welcome-Abroad-the-Good-Ol'-Boy-Network campaign during 1989 under the above title. Listed in one of its issues and praised, were several hundred "outstanding young Ministers"

It seemed highly symbolic to me that I saw listed some of my old classmates who were "preaching" majors with me at Lincoln Christian College (luring the mid-70s. It was symbolic because here was a roster of young men who had "made it." Degreed. Ordained. Hired. Promoted. Recognized. Listed. Displayed. I felt so left ()ut. I missed the boat. I didn't make the cut. The prospects for becoming the President of the North American Christian Convention of 2010 definitely look bleak. Did I make a mistake in the youthful idealism of my Bible college days?

And then I remembered why I am not listed there. Sometime between being fired from my job as a Youth Minister and finishing third year Greek, I realized that the role of Preacher/Minister for which I was being trained and as it is currently practiced, does not exist in the New Testament. The height of irony was that my training was taking place in a Bible college supposedly committed to "restoring" the New Testament expression of the local congregation!

This discovery quite unnerved me at first, though not the discovery itself. Rather, when I could corner professors on this issue, they would uniformly admit I was right. They would then go on to tell me that I should work within the system. What system?!!! Didn't a 'system' merely constitute the habits of men? And if a system is unbiblical, or conflicts with biblical principles, should I not oppose it and overthrow it?

So then I began to have bull sessions with classmates until 4 a.m. at places like Dixie Truckers' Home in McClean, Illinois. A handful of us concluded the 'system' was not only unbiblical, but could not even be justified from 'experience' either, and actually subverted God's intentions in His people. We also concluded that the horror stories we swapped from the field were the inevitable result of maintaining unbiblical arrangements.

After graduation, we were 'listed' in another sense, by our exclusion from the alumni statistics "Percentage of Graduates Entering Full Time Christian Service" which would go out to the supporting churches. I had let down my alma mater. Had I let down the Lord?

Now, a dozen years after "sinking into tine Body of Christ at large," and since then being misunderstood for that decision, perhaps some can understand why I have anger on behalf of those saints who wrote tine Christian Standard objecting to its recognizing the Young Clergy at the expense of "The Rest of the Gifts God Had Given."