Pray for me as I get ordained as a pastor of The Progressive Christian Alliance

So for a couple of years now Roger McClellan, founder of the The Progressive Christian Alliance, has offered to recommend me to the PCA leadership counsel for ordination as a PCA pastor.

“You have a ministry larger and more vibrant than ninety-nine percent of the pastors out here,” he wrote me on one occasion. “Day in and day out, you speak the prophetic voice of the true spirit of Christ to thousands of people, many if not the majority of which have been most hurt or marginalized by the church. John, you’re a pastor of Christ’s Church if ever there was one.”

But I always turned down Roger’s kind offers of ordination into the PCA, because I felt that calling myself a Reverend would just be too pretentious for words—not to mention obnoxiously disrespectful of all the good men and women out there who actually went to seminary, who actually are real pastors of real churches.

How could I possibly presume to accept such a title, when my whole thing in life is to basically and reflexively loathe pretentiousness? I’m as anti-pretentiousness as any alley cat who ever … I dunno: sat atop a trashcan and made that spooky-weird cat sound that from a dog would be a howl.

So no thanks, I always said to Roger. Thank you so much. But I can’t.

But starting about six months ago I came to slowly but surely realize that not only could I become a PCA pastor, I couldn’t not. Which I know sounds about as pretentious as anything it’s possible to say. But … well, there it is. That’s what happened. (And I’ll be writing more about this soon.) So I applied for PCA ordination, waited, and soon enough learned that I’d been unanimously affirmed by the PCA leadership counsel.

So tomorrow, at 3 p.m. Pacific time, I’m going to be ordained as a PCA pastor in a little ceremony held at the church of my dear friend Pastor Bob (who’s back from his five-month sabbatical spent writing his doctoral dissertation!!) Officiating will be PCA representative David Stambaugh, associate pastor of Hollywood United Methodist Church.

I’d like to ask you to say a little prayer on my behalf around this. I’m certain I will feel those prayers and supporting thoughts in my heart tomorrow afternoon. Thank you.

Though I’ve never joined anything, ever, in my whole life, I’m proud to join the PCA as they go about their business of deconstructing so much of the worst of what Christianity has become, and in its place building an affirming, encouraging, open, grassroots Christianity that encourages and facilitates people stepping into the spirit of God’s reality in whatever way is best for them at that time.

No rules. No judging. No exclusion. No dogma. Just the very spirit of God.

So I’m all in. Thanks for helping bring me to this.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter. If you shop at Amazon, help support John by entering the site through this link right here--Amazon will then send John 3-4% of the cost of anything you buy before exiting the site again.

 

  • http://www.facebook.com/JasonMHaddox Jason Haddox via Facebook

    Happy for you, and for those to whom you have been pastor, minister and counselor all these years. Grace and peace!

  • Rob Brunner via Facebook

    Praying of course, John…

  • Denise Ashworth via Facebook

    Congratulations, John–you’ll be held in a multitude of prayers!

  • Katherine Floritto via Facebook

    Congratulations, John.

  • http://www.facebook.com/blaine.williams.77 Blaine Williams via Facebook

    Congratulations? Next thing you know though, is they’ll have you going to church.

  • Jana Harrison Currier via Facebook

    Congratulations!! Keep on preaching!

  • Anne

    This is wonderful news for all of us who follow you already and for all of the people who’ve been hurt by “the church” or people who claim to speak for the church or God or Jesus. Your ministry makes a difference.

    I kind of feel like I imagine people who bought stock in Apple felt in the early days. I’m catching the wave early.

    • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

      Adorable. :)

  • Terri Antonovich via Facebook

    Get you ! You will be bathed in prayer from All of us , Bless x

  • http://www.transparently.ca Lisa Salazar

    Now I can really say that appreciate your “ministry” without feeling like I’m stretching some truth. I will be praying for you and giving thanks for how God is using you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john10423 John Gragson

    Good for you. “May the Lord who has given you the will to do these things [continue] to give you the grace and power to perform them.”

  • Sharla

    Ordination just means that you are set apart for a specific ministry. You’ve been doing the ministry all along. Now you get to be recognized for it. Anybody who knows you knows you’re not suddenly going to start throwing your weight around just because you now have a shiny new title.

    Ministry is changing in this changing world. Not all of us have gone to seminary, or need to attend seminary. (I did, but I know very gifted ministers who did not.)

  • Megan Steele via Facebook

    The world need more pastors like you, John. Congratulations.

  • http://twitter.com/paxey PaxEy

    I pray for you, man. Good luck!

  • Wendy Carruthers Taylor via Facebook

    Congratulations! Enjoy your special day!

  • jesse

    Many happy congratulations, John! i am so proud of you and incredibly thankful to have discovered your not-so-little corner of the world! i have already said a prayer for your ceremony and will do so again tomorrow!!!

  • Ric Booth

    Wootith!

  • Lisa Metzler via Facebook

    Congratulations, John!! I believe this is a well-deserved honor. Prayers for your continued success!

  • daryl statham-waring

    Nice one John. Congrats and i’m sure you’ll do great. I haven’t prayed for a long time, but you gave me back a bit of faith, so i’ll say a little prayer to help steady any nerves you may have……enjoy

  • Hth

    That spooky-weird sound is a yowl. The more you know!

    Congratulations, sir. I hope this recognition for your love and labor fills you with even more strength to keep up the work you do, yowling on the internet for Christ.

  • Prakasha Capen via Facebook

    Congratulations! An excellent decision.

  • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

    Gawd…so pretentious!

    Just kiddin’! So happy for you! I really can’t thank you enough for all the pastoring you’ve given me. Your blog means a a lot to me. *hug*

  • http://www.facebook.com/randy.pyles.12 Randy Pyles via Facebook

    I’ll say a little prayer for you, while playing my Dionne Warwick playlist. YDM John. (You da man!)

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.sinclair.129 David Sinclair via Facebook

    Congrats Mr. Shore!

  • Martha Jean

    They just saw that you have been our minister for quite a long time and this is the ceremony to honor that……and by the way, you can help couples marry each other, which I hear is quite joyous!

  • Carol VanderNat

    Congrat, John! The ministry you’ve been doing all along simply has a capital “M” now…all of us have been blessed by your Ministry for a long time, even those of us who have issue with the organized church. My prayers will be there along with the others’ tomorrow…

    But if you get uppity, we’re all gonna smack you down! HAR!!

  • http://amandajustice.blogspot.com Amanda

    Dude, you’ve got it — and congratulations! For what it’s worth, I think you’ve made the right call. And so did the Progressive Christian Alliance :D

  • Matt

    Congratulations, John!

    Getting official recognition just means that you have some more resources at your disposal. Remember the Apostles: They didn’t have any formal training either, and they did so much good.

    If my current pastor refuses to marry my partner and I one day in the future, you are next on my list, if you’re up to it :).

    • Jill H

      So cool Matt, what you just said.

  • Mindy

    Proud of you, glad you are being celebrated for all you have to offer – which is far more than you realize.

    Hugs, dear friend.

  • Patricia Boese

    Many blessings to you tomorrow and may God be with you as you continue to counsel and minister to all of us and to those in the years ahead. Thank you and congratulations!

  • Pam Marolla via Facebook

    That’s fantastic! I’ve been so blessed by your blog and books – to extend your outreach this way can only serve as a greater blessing to many more!

  • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

    I think ordination will suit you mighty well, John Shore. Praying for you and thanking God for the blessings He gives us through you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/KristiOutlerByrd Kristi Outler Byrd via Facebook

    The “church” is people, not a building. I know that many people (myself among them) have been blessed by this blog and your books. A pastor is essentially a teacher and I’ve learned a lot here. All this to say that I find it highly appropriate and pretty darn awesome. Congratulations! I’m happy for you, John!

  • Roger McClellan

    It was the right thing to do. John clearly has a calling. That much is evident in his dedicated service to his readers.

    So all that remained was for:

    A: John to accept that

    B. The church to affirm that.

    Now it will be so.

    I am pleased to welcome John, officially into the role he has already been filling; that of a partner in ministry.

    My prayers and my love are with you.

    • Diana A.

      Amen!

  • Stacy Cribbs via Facebook

    Yahoo!

  • Ed Lawson via Facebook

    My kind of pastor! Minister on, John!

  • vj

    Wow, John – sheer awesomnicity! ;-) When I first read the title, I thought it was ‘just’ a quote from another reader letter (been a bit of a trend this week!) – SO exciting that it’s actually YOU!!!!

    As so many have already said, this is just formal recognition of the ministry that you have already been doing. I believe in the ‘priesthood of all believers’, and that we are all ‘ministers of God’s grace’, but I also believe that those with a more ‘public’ ministry can only benefit from being part of something larger. Even if it doesn’t actually change your day-to-day life, there is definitely a spiritual dynamic in being part of a Godly team (however unstructured/informal). I pray that your official ordination will be the start of a wonderful new season for you and Cat, as you keep on doing what God has called you to do! Love and blessings to you both.

  • Jill H

    Wonderful! Shedding a few proud and happy tears for you today, John. Well deserved.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.withee.1 Kelly Withee via Facebook

    God bless you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gina.cirelli.1 Gina Cirelli via Facebook

    John, this is amazing news! Well done! I’ll have to add San Diego to my list of one of the places to want to move to!

  • http://krethtunez.biz Randy Creath

    Congratulations and blessings, John!! Now, please keep on “kickin’ at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight!” (Bruce Cockburn)

  • Lisa Kratzer via Facebook

    Congrats!!! That’s so awesome. And God bless. :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/paula.o.hall.7 Paula Orman Hall via Facebook

    Peace & light on your new journey..

  • http://www.facebook.com/amy.stewartcooper Amy Stewart-Cooper via Facebook

    Sending prayers and congratulations!

  • Peet

    Congratulations John. To me it is more of an acknowledgement of what you already do, more of a confirmation than anything else. You were always a pastor, carefully disguised as an increibly gifted writer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dland Dave Land via Facebook

    We’ve been calling you a minister for how long, now? Congrats on making it official, Rev. Shore.

  • Deb Porter via Facebook

    God be with you. And, congratulations!

  • Linda Burton via Facebook

    Congratulations. I am so happy to have found someone who thinks so much the same as I do, and it is a wonderful opportunity to share your gift. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/deborah.doehr.kim Deborah Doehr Kim via Facebook

    Praying that this step in your spiritual journey helps you to continue the ministry you’ve already started and to keep growing in God’s love.

  • http://www.facebook.com/al.zylstra Al Zylstra via Facebook

    How about I send you happy thoughts, instead? I don’t think prayers from a “godless heathen” will count for much……. But, I hope you get to realize your potential .

  • Richard Edgar via Facebook

    I’ll add my prayers for blessings on this, and on the rest of your ministry, which is really quite indispensable for so many of us. Mazel tov!

  • charles

    wow! congrats John !

    though you might not be a “pastor” in the typical sense, you might actually be more important due to the reach of your ministry…. and as James 4:6 says- “But our Lord gives us more grace; therefore, he said, “God humbles the proud and he gives grace to the humble.”

    and as the John Rhys Davies’ “Sallah” character from the Indiana Jones films also said…. “Allah favors the Merciful”

    Godspeed my brother.

    CM

  • Gordon

    Congratulations, soon-to-be Reverend Shore. I think this is a wise move for you and for The Progressive Christian Alliance. One question: Did you make sure they have a good health plan? ☺

  • http://www.facebook.com/micahbroyal Micah Royal via Facebook

    Thank you for adding your voicde to the many progressive voices in PCA. We are enriched by you

  • http://www.facebook.com/terry.mcguire Terry McGuire via Facebook

    _/|_

  • Dave McGee via Facebook

    This is so wonderful, my prayers are with you :-)

  • kimj

    Prayers John. This is exciting Rev. Shore!

  • http://www.facebook.com/PamelaKandt Pamela RW Kandt via Facebook

    May God always bless your ministry so that you may continue to be a blessings to others. Congrats!

  • http://MaleSurvivor.org John C.

    Thank-you for your ministry, John. God will bless :)

  • Lisa Metzler via Facebook

    Congratulations and prayers being sent!

  • Amy Blamey Michael Finnerty via Facebook

    Congratulations, John. Thank you for all you do for all of us.

  • John

    Congratulations, John

    I am go to pray the you continue trying Gods patients for many years. You have made an impression on me that has help me find a way to incorporate organized religion back into my life with out feeling trapped or stifled. i know you are going to be opening windows and doors for may who gave up hope.

    John Mayo

  • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

    You’re the closest thing to a minister that I have. Thanks for being there and congratulations!

  • n.

    1) congratulations or whatever the non pretentious version of that is. MazelTov?

    2) Every time you wrote PCA i had a small ex-psycho-calvinist panic-attack. Because PCA are the initials of a conservative reformed presbyterian denomination that are the only churches in this area of the country that were *almost* conservative enough for my family. But not quite.

  • Laurie LaFramboise via Facebook

    Blessing on you today and always.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cranknode Ken Conrad via Facebook

    Congrats John!

  • Wendy Carruthers Taylor via Facebook

    Congratulations!

  • Catherine Crawford via Facebook

    I’m only surprised you aren’t already ordained. All my prayers and good thoughts are with you.

  • Diana A.

    Best wishes, John. My prayers are with you as you take this step.

  • http://www.greggdeselms.com Gregg DesElms

    Well, John, this is a very interesting posting by you, indeed. First, congratulations! And, second, thank you for taking it so seriously that you refused to actually do it until you finally felt called… I mean, REALLY called.

    That’s what finally happened, you know: You finally felt actually called, as evidenced by the key phrase that you used, “I couldn’t not.” That’s a common feeling that those called eventually have: Resistance, resistance, resistance… until one may resist no more; until NOT responding to the call seems more wrong than responding. Such a feeling is evidence, indeed, of a true calling, righhtly bathed in humility; and the time you spent refusing it — resisting it — was your discernment period; your hearing God in the cacophony of your life, whether or not you were listening.

    Mainline denominations make a big deal of the discernment period… as, don’t get me wrong, they should. But some of them use it more to weed-out those whom they’re pretty sure won’t tow whatever is their line, than they do for the purpose of truly helping the potential ordinand arrive at a felt-to-the-core-of-oneself, truest-of-true callings to vocation. The most salient benefit of the mainline denominational process is that it’s intentional. Your discernment, on the other hand, was going on inside you even without your necessarily knowing it. Some consider that a truer means of doing it, because it involved little or no shaping or drawing by anyone.

    St. Ignatius Loyola wrote: “In every good choice, in so far as it depends on us, the direction of our intention should be simple. I must look only to the end for which I am created … [t]herefore whatever I choose must have as its purpose to help me to this end. I must not shape or draw the end to the means, but the means to the end.”

    Your arrival at this place has been neither shaped nor drawn by what a church body, in its “wisdom,” has either counseled or decreed; but, rather, by this magnificent vocational work of yours, here, on this website, and also in your books…

    …a circumstance into which God has placed you as a consequence of your faith; and so it has shaped and drawn; it has been the means to this end. You now claim citizenship in two of God’s kingdoms: earthly and spiritual. In the spiritual kingdom, Christ serves us; and in the earthly one, we serve our neighbors. That, in fact, is the acid test… the guide for how to live out each and every vocation to which anyone may be called: How one’s calling serves one’s neighbor, as Christ commanded and said was the law and the prophets.

    God has been present in all the seemingly ordinary things you’ve done, here. He has been at work as you’ve lived-out your both call and vocation in its everydayness, here, so that others, here, who have felt excluded from knowing Christ, can come to know him, indeed. In the process, you have become more intentional about how this work serves your neighbors.

    I agree that a seminary education of some kind tends to make one feel more prepared. Through a formal education for ministry, we are able to convert from our call of Alselm’s “faith seeking understanding,” to our vocation’s “understanding guiding service.” And then, of course, there’s the whole “study to show ourselves approved unto God” business, and all the “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training” that naturally attends, as found in 2nd Timothy. [grin]

    Your interesting journey, though, has involved no small amount of intuitive self-study that’s more than equivalent to a good theological education as evidenced by your gifted interpretation and conveyance of its lessons in your many writings here, and in your books. While I’ve been pursuing an accredited divinity degree for some time, now (and taking almost literally forever finally getting it done), you have walked the walk with gifted understanding, and have performed no small mitzvah for your readers along the way.

    So many others out there only talk the talk, and want to shortcut things by opting for both degree mills and, ultimately, ordination mills: both “schools” and “churches” that will award “degrees,” and then “ordain” anyone, who’s willing to pay their fees, and nothing more (quotation marks intentional, to convey lack of credibility).

    Roger McClellan’s church, though, could not be further from that kind repugnance and hypocrisy. His Progressive Christian Alliance (PCA) has, from the outset, aspired to, and quickly achieved, true credibility… and, more imporantly, relevance. I could not be more impressed by PCA; and I am honored, then, to say that Roger has also been suggesting PCA ordination to me for quite some time, now. I have yet to take him up on it, though, for a variety of reasons, including some not terribly dissimilar from your own. Ordination to Word and Sacrament is a very a big deal, for which I still feel, at the moment, unready. Once I finish my divinity degree, most any of the mainline denominations would take me (though would require that I take two to four courses from their respective seminaries to orient me to their demoninational doctrine and polity). But I have long been falling away from such mainline denominational… er… umm… let’s call it “stuff.” So it’s actually quite likely that I will one day take Roger up on his offer, as I enviously note that you now have.

    Anyone discerning a vocational call wants to understand what God expects from them; how they can distinguish God’s voice; and, importantly, what will become of them if they turn God down. The beauty of your situation now, as with all who’ve discerned — by hook or by crook — a true calling, is that your finally arriving at that you “could’t not do it” makes it so that you’ll never know, because you’ve not turned God down after all.

    In her book, “Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith” (Random House, 1999), Anne Lamott wrote: “We in our faith work stumble along toward where we think we’re supposed to go, bumbling along, and here is what’s so amazing — we end up getting exactly where we’re supposed to be.”

    Roger’s rationale for your ordination is spot on. You have, indeed, helped no end of people on the margins with these web pages, and your books. That is as much — and as a both valid and relevant — a ministry as any out there. It need make no apologies to anyone. You have inadvertently discerned your call, and now, finally, you can’t not respond. It’s exactly where you’re supposed to be…

    …at that very special place where the needs of the world intersect with your gifts and the unselfish joy with which you give them… your very spiritual bliss. Your gift of this website and your books, and the intentionality of your loving and helping of neighbor as Christ commands us, now makes your ordination not merely an option but, alas, a necessity…

    …a necessary ordination which does not confer spiritual status but, rather, recognizes and validates the ability you have shown to assume a leadership role in the community of faith; a role of Word and Sacrament to “equip the saints for the work of ministry,” and “building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12); a role of service, as you’ve been so magnificently doing.

    I, for one, will be praying for you not the little prayer around your special day tomorrow that you have requested, but, rather, a very large prayer for not only that moment, but also for your continued good works inspired by your faith, and those on the margins who will continue to be served by them.

    God bless you, John, as you embark on this new chapter in your life. It is no small thing, as you clearly and impressively understand. My prayers and good wishes are with you as you begin it.

    Pax.

    _______________________________

    Gregg L. DesElms

    Napa, California USA

    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

  • Lymis

    Absolutely you are in my prayers!

  • Don Rappe

    So! Holy orders. WTF? Congratulations. Blog ministry makes sense to me. I like the fact that we can talk back. I notice that a number of ordained people are laying cyber hands on you. I think that’s a good sign. Best wishes. You have a fine Pastor’s wife, so you should continue to be a good shepherd. I thought I noticed you cleaning up your language.

  • Kerry

    Thinking of you / praying today. Happy for you – you deserve this! Continued thanks for all you do and best wishes as you continue making a difference.

    • Kerry

      P.S. What should we call you now?

  • Jeri Vauq LaPlante via Facebook

    Yay! Finally a pastor to keep eyes & hears attuned

  • mike moore

    congratulations and much love!!

    I do hope that when people ask what you do for a living, you’ll first say “I’m a writer.” I usually run the other way, when I’ve met Pastors, and would hate the idea that the “pastor” label scared a person away from someone as super-cool as are you.

    • Jill H

      amen

    • Diana A.

      There is this!

  • Chris

    Well first off, Congratulations! That’s so incredibly exciting and wonderful.

    And secondly, you honestly shouldn’t worry about not having faced the rigors of seminary school. Seminary schools basically exist for four reasons:

    1) To further time for discernment (which is clearly time you’ve taken),

    2) To allow for discernment by other Christian leaders of your capabilities (which has clearly already been done by PCA leadership),

    3) To give you experience in ministering (which you’ve clearly had through your blog)

    4) To teach you and hone your exegetical skills (again, your blog)

    Everything you’re supposed to learn in seminary you’ve already been doing on your own! Your “grades” and “critiques” can be found in the comments section of your posts, you obviously can provide and publish theological literature (which has proved popular), so you’ve passed your “final exams” at the Seminary of Public Opinion. I don’t believe that any seminarian would begrudge you an ordination, and certainly no experienced minister would. So revel in this :) and again, congratulations.

  • Sharon Aldridge Kaufman via Facebook

    Your posts haven’t been showing up on my newsfeed. I am so thrilled and happy for you, John. God knows who He calls.


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