By Rev. Crystal Schmalz
The big questions I’ve heard, and even had myself before I got my license were “What difference does it make? What is a license anyways?”
There are a lot of issues surrounding the idea of a ministerial license with the UPCI. Younger leaders question whether or not they want to be committed to one denomination or organization. Leaders question whether or not they want to sign a document in which they might not fully agree. Women in particular, question whether or not they would even be encouraged or allowed to get their license. So, what’s the big deal? Why in the world does a female or male leader need a license?
First of all, let’s get one thing straight. The UPCI isn’t the only Pentecostal organization in the world going to heaven. There are several other organizations, and Holy Spirit filled people all over the world who are not a part of an organized group, or are a part of a different group than the UPCI. I am however writing this blog from the perspective of a female General licensed minister with the UPCI. I support the UPCI, and would like to see the organization grow. Whether or not you decide to be a part of the UPCI is your choice, but let’s talk about some of the benefits of getting your license and being a part of a recognized movement:
Benefits of Getting Your License
1. There is some form of accountability for a leader. We all need accountability. Don’t become isolated and out there on your own. Be accountable, and do not be tossed about with every wind of doctrine. There are many ideas out there, but being a part of an organization gives you a safety net and a place to discuss what you really believe.
2. There are some unified premises and presuppositions held, which create standard doctrines and practices. Every Christian needs discipline, and standards for practice. When you start to go out and create your own, be careful. The UPCI holds Articles of Faith, and these govern the practices of those who commit themselves to the movement.
3. Organizations can bring more change than one person who thinks they can change the world with or without a license. The people who have the most influence are those who unite, and realize they aren’t the center of the story, Jesus Christ is. You will make more of an impact by affiliating yourself with an organization than you will being a lone ranger.
4. A license will give you the voice to vote and make changes within the organization. You can complain all day long about not being heard, but until you get a license and participate in voting your complaining is worthless. Bring change by being involved!
5. Other denominations and organizations value a minister who is connected to a group, and endorsed. If you want to be a chaplain (hospital, military, or prison) you will need to have formal documentation of being endorsed by an organization.
6. It is better to create unity, rather than start your own organization. No organization is perfect, and you may not agree on every point. People in the Bible didn’t agree on every point.
7. It costs less than a Starbucks habit. Some people say it costs too much. Blah! If you want something, you will be willing to pay for it. A license is a good way to spend your money, and support someone other than yourself. Cut back on the McD’s and you will have a license in a flash.
8. You get life insurance. If you are licensed by the UPCI, you will get a minimal life insurance plan.
9. You get a cool “clergy” sticker to put on your car. (Note: If you have a car like mine, you might want to refrain from using the sticker…haha)
10. You get a Pentecostal Herald and a Forward subscription. Sharpen your mind by reading more Pentecostal literature. This is a bonus of the license.
11. You get postcards and announcements about events. You get to be involved in the communication.
12. You get to participate online, and get to look at job descriptions and postings for pastors/youth pastors/music pastors/etc.
13. Depending on your license, you get to baptize, do weddings, do funerals, and get special housing allowances.
14. You get to be involved with other leaders, and make more friends.
15. You get to put “Reverend” in front of your name. It is neat to be recognized for the call God has on your life. If you are serving already, why not make it official and have the title to go along with the service.
16. You get to be a part of a great movement. The UPCI may have some faults, but it is a good movement and is impacting the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
17. You get the privilege of being an example and a leader in the church. Lead with courage and humility! Encourage others to get their license by getting your license!
Now, I’ve heard some women say they don’t need to get a license, because their husband has his license. This is not true. If you are called to leadership and into the ministry, you need your license. It is important for both women and men to get their licenses. Some men might say, I don’t need to get my license because my pastor has his/her license. This is not true. If you are serving in a leadership position, and want to be in the ministry you need your license. Almost all district positions require a ministerial license, and it is going to get to the point where they all require a ministerial license in the future. I rarely hear men say they don’t need a license because their wife has one, but if I do hear someone say this, my response will be “ Get your license!”
Getting your license does require commitment and time. The Bible says to not give certain offices and roles in the church to novices and beginners. The progression of the licensure phases helps give people the opportunity to grow into leadership. You start with your local, go to general, and then to ordination. The church needs to confirm your call, and the way we confirm callings within the church is to license individuals for service. To not get your license, is to ignore, procrastinate, and reject the calling God has on your life. Take the time to study and read the books on the list. Learn more about the Bible. Be a committed disciple and follower of Jesus Christ.
How can you get started?
1. First of all, talk with your mentors, leaders, and pastors in your life. Invite people to speak into your life, whether that means instruction or correction. Be accountable to people. Intentionally put people into your life who can help you see yourself, and see your blind spots. We need mirrors, and often the people around us are the best mirrors.
2. Meet with your pastor, and see where you are at. This will determine whether or not you apply for a local or general license.
3. Be specific about your calling, and don’t be afraid to name your gifts in leadership. Dream, imagine, and create!
4. Prepare. You will need to go to your district office or website and look up the requirements. Be ready to invest several hours in studying and reading. Find a partner, and go through the material together.
5. Get the application, fill it out, and send it in with all of your materials. Step out in faith!
6. Go before the committee, and let the boldness and humility of Jesus Christ shine. Talk about your calling, and ask how the district can help support you in your calling and ministry. Ask about how you can get involved.
7. If you don’t succeed the first time, try again. Be willing to invest your life into your calling, and never give up.
8. If you are a woman in leadership, prepare yourself. It isn’t going to be easy. Search the scriptures, consult your mentors, and find out what the scripture has to say about women in leadership. Don’t be afraid. Be bold in the name of Jesus Christ! With your boldness, be sincere, approachable, willing for teaching, and humble. Contact me (Crystal Schmalz) with questions, and get a copy of the Women in Leadership Small Group series.
9. If you are a woman, be a woman. If you are a man, be a man. God needs and wants both women and men in leadership.
10. Once you have your license, keep studying and get more involved. Support your district and the leaders who are over you. Encourage other leaders, and make room for other people to fulfill their dreams and callings.
In conclusion, we need more women and men to get their license with the UPCI. If you are doing the work, get the license to go with it. If you feel called to ministry, get your license! If you are waiting, ask yourself “What am I waiting for? What is hindering me? What excuses am I making for myself?”
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