Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, blogs and message boards….as social media has exploded over the last decade, it is has turned into a professional minefield. Just as college admissions offices and potential employers check social medial accounts of applicants, you should assume your BOM/DCOM is doing the same. And be prepared for any fallout.
One candidate made some less than positive comments about the Residence in Ministry retreat she was about to attend on Facebook and was called before the ENTIRE BOM to explain herself. She was delayed a year for disrespecting the process and had some major work to do to prove herself. (In her defense, it was a rather useless RIM, but that is for another day.)
Another candidate had a disastrous meeting with his BOM reading team and simply could not figure out what was going on. They were asking questions on his beliefs regarding social and political themes in opposition to UMC doctrine and how he would uphold his Disciplinary commitments if ordained. He was delayed and nearly discontinued by the time it was all done. How did they get this information on him? A quick Google search of his name turned up pages of comments he had made on Methodist blogs, news articles, and other sites, most of which were questioning or outright challenging current UMC doctrine and practices. His heart was in the right place: changing the UMC to be stronger, more vibrant and more effective. But it came across as confrontational to his team, and why would they want someone as a UM clergy who is so opposed to all the UMC stands for?
Now, nearly all of us have concerns about or disagreements with UMC doctrine or polity. I don’t know a single clergy that agrees 100% with the Book of Discipline. If the majority of clergy did, General Conference would be a whole lot shorter with a whole lot less yelling.
It’s disingenuous to claim to agree 100% with the Discipline if you don’t, but the key is how you frame your disagreements and to understand that there is a difference between disagreeing with and violating the Discipline. There is also a time and a place for those conversations, and ideally, your DCOM/BOM meeting is not that place.
If you’ve already gotten yourself into trouble or need guidance so you don’t get into trouble, consider a few sessions with Whole Soul as an investment in your future (and your sanity). Visit us as wholesoulconsulting.org for information on how we can help you have a smoother journey towards ordination and articulate your theology in a way that will show your passion for change as a positive to those you will encounter.