Persons seeking ordination in the North Texas conference are required to participate in the Provisional Membership Program. Successful completion of this program is a requirement for ordination as a deacon or elder in full connection in the North Texas Conference.
One of the following two requirements must be met in order to participate in the Provisional Membership Program during the year:
- A full-time appointment.
- A less-than-full-time appointment (at least 30 hours a week) that has been designated as a missional appointment by the Cabinet.
There will be 10 two-hour Covenant Group Sessions. Residents are expected to participate in at least eight (8) of these meetings.
The Covenant Group Facilitator is Pat Beghtel Mahle. Beginning in August, the Covenant Group will meet monthly. The time and place of the meeting will be announced by Pat Beghtel Mahle.
The Covenant Group will carry out the following tasks:
- Develop a community of faith through regular prayer, Bible study, and other spiritual disciplines during group meetings.
- Involve participants in a process of support, encouragement, and mutual accountability.
- Read and discuss at least one (1) book provided by the Committee on Provisional Membership.
- Read articles and reflect upon anti-racism issues and behaviors.
- Reflect on the Resident’s call to ministry.
- Explore the implications for ministry of the United Methodist Church’s mission statement, “The mission of the United Methodist Church is to make disciples of
- Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
- Discuss key transition issues that arise during the first year of full-time ministry especially “nuts and bolts.”
- Reflect upon the experiences in the congregation, especially as they relate to the Resident’s leadership role within the congregation.
- Discover the significance of “the connection” and collegiality.
- Explore the issues and implications of being a member of an order.
- Address other issues that the group wishes to explore.
Confidentiality is an important component of the Covenant Group. Participants are expected to respect the privileged nature of what happens within the group. The Covenant Group Facilitator will not be asked to provide information concerning the content of what transpires within the meetings.
It is assumed that the Covenant Group and Covenant Group Facilitator will be able to successfully address any significant issues of concern involving Residents. If, however, an issue remains unresolved, the Covenant Group Facilitator will work with the chair of Committee on Provisional Membership to determine how best to address the situation.
The Covenant Group Facilitator will provide written feedback indicating whether Residents have participated faithfully and fully in the Covenant Group. This material will be shared with the Division of Preparation and Qualifications for use in their continuation interview with the Resident.
The Committee on Provisional Membership is responsible for assigning Mentor Pastors to Residents. If the Resident believes there is an impediment with the Mentor Pastor who is assigned, he or she is urged to request the committee to consider assigning another Mentor Pastor as soon as possible.
Training for Mentor Pastors and Residents will be offered by Pat Beghtel Mahle. Residents will have a minimum of ten meetings with Mentor Pastors.
They will prepare a minimum of five reflection papers dealing with the following issues:
- Theological reflection on the resident’s mission field and goals to serve it.
- Reflection on the issues of church management including strengths and weaknesses in the areas of time management, finance, communication, personnel (lay and staff) and other church operations.
- A case study utilizing systems theory that deals with an incident in the Resident’s ministry setting.
- Theological reflection on the vision for the Resident’s local ministry setting and how to help others see this vision and work toward it.
- A reflection of learning from the anti-racism training and how they can be put into practice in the Resident’s ministry setting.
Residents will provide the Covenant Group Facilitator with a copy of each of the five (5) reflection papers in a timely manner. The Covenant Group Facilitator will maintain appropriate confidentiality regarding these documents.
The Mentor Pastor is requested to attend one session in the fall with the Lay Committee. At that session, they are asked to engage in a joint review of the tape of the Resident’s sermon or significant ministry function. (See Sermon or Significant Ministry Function)
A mutually trusting and supportive relationship is a necessary ingredient in the mentoring relationship. Both the Resident and the Mentor Pastor are expected to respect what takes place within the relationship.
It is assumed that the Mentor Pastor and Resident will be able to successfully address significant issues of concern involving the Resident. If an issue remains unresolved, the Mentor Pastor or Resident will contact the chair of the Committee on Provisional Membership to determine how best to address the situation.
Mentor Pastors will not be asked to provide assessments or evaluations of the Residents. They will, however, be asked to provide the dates on which they met with the Resident and a description of the topics they covered. This material will be shared with respective divisions of preparation and qualification for use in their continuation interview with the Resident.
Sermon or Significant Ministry Function
Residents seeking ordination as elders will videotape one sermon for review with the Mentor Pastor and Lay Ministry Committee. Residents seeking ordination as deacons will videotape one significant ministry function (e.g. teacher’s training, preaching, youth ministry event, teaching, music presentation, etc.) for review with the Mentor Pastor and Lay Ministry Committee.
Lay Ministry Committee
Residents will have a minimum of nine meetings with their Lay Ministry Committee, with the Mentor Pastor present at least once. The Residents are responsible for recruiting their Lay Committee. It is recommended that the Lay Committee include a diversity of age, gender, race, and theological perspectives. Several options exist for forming the Lay Ministry committee:
- Model 1 (recommended): An approximately nine (9) member team composed of individuals familiar with the work of the Resident. This team should include at least one (1) member of the Staff-Parish Relations Committee.
- Model 2: Staff-Parish Relations Committee. If the Staff-Parish Relations Committee option is chosen, these meetings can be included in the committee’s regular monthly meetings. If this model is utilized, it should be clarified that the Membership meeting does not serve the same purpose as a Staff Parish Meeting. The Membership Meeting’s primary purpose is reflection and growth not performance evaluation or Staff-Parish relations.
- Model 3: An approximately nine (9) member team composed of individuals from the multiple church or ministry settings familiar with the work of the Resident. This team should include at least one (1) member of the Staff-Parish Relations Committee.
The meeting with the Lay Ministry Committee will reflect on the Resident’s growth in the following areas:
- Call to ministry including integrity in the Resident’s lifestyle because of the call.
- Personal spiritual development and inspiring others to grow in relationship with God.
- Passionate preaching and teaching that challenges people to grow in discipleship and reach out to others.
- Proficiency in major responsibility of ministry (deacons)
- Pastoral Care including listening, responding to needs and leading people and the congregation through change, challenges and conflict.
- Vision and goal setting and communication
- Identifying the ministry setting’s mission field and communicating how to serve it outreach and discipleship.
- Church Management including time management, communication, finances, supervising personnel (lay and staff), and other church operations.
- Working in partnership with others (staff and the congregation) to accomplish the same mission and goals
- Developing, coaching and mentoring leaders to take more ownership in the church’s mission and lead with unique skills and gifts.
- A willingness to learn and tend to ongoing personal, professional, emotional and spiritual growth.
The Lay Ministry Committee Chair will be asked to provide a written assessment of the Resident’s progress relative to these issues. This information will be shared with the Division of Preparation and Qualifications for use in their continuation interviews with the Resident.