This post is part of a series telling about my experience with the Board of Ordained Ministry. Other posts in the series are listed in the yellow box at the end of this post.
This committee makes sure that you thoroughly understand United Methodist doctrine. This is where a good seminary education will come in handy. Out of all of the committees, this was the one that I was most scared of meeting. I was worried that they would quiz me on 3rd century bishops, or have me describe the differences between the theologies of some obscure theologians that I had not studied. My written responses to the doctrine questions that are posed by the Book of Discipline took almost 50 pages (double spaced). I aswered each question thoroughly, and then reread my responses to make sure I was answering the question that was asked. In my responses, I tried to include examples of how I personally lived out this theology in my own life, and in my leadership in the church setting.
They had an opportunity to read my responses, and ask questions about my theology. After the introductions, the person that was most familliar with writen responses praised my written work and said that there were no problems in the writing, and he was glad that I made myself available in my responses. He asked me to talk a little bit about Baptism. We explored the meaning of the words “means of grace.” Then I was asked about evil (which is an extremely difficult topic). I replied that first and foremost, it is important to know that Jesus Christ has power over evil, and through Christ, we may also reject the power of evil. I did not know it, but that was exactly what he was looking for. My written answer on evil was walking a tight line, and I went close to saying that humans had power over evil on their own. That was the only point of clarification, and I think I responded satisfactorily.
Tip: Work on your written doctrine responses early, and get others to read it. The more sound your answers are in your written work, the less work the committee will have to do in person.
There was one other person who told me that he blanked out in the room, and could not remember Wesley’s forms of grace (prevenient, justifying, sanctifying). That is not good. I sure hope he passed the board, because it is easy for your mind to go blank when sitting in front of that committee. If I were a committee member, though, I would want someone to be able to talk about grace in their sleep. I would advise knowing these and making sure that they appear in your written work.
Tip: Know grace. Include grace in your writing. Be ready to apply the forms of grace to the sacraments. How is prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying grace at work in baptism and communion?