Our active summer is coming close to its end and I am beginning to look at what is ahead in September.
One of the key upcoming events is the Fall meeting of Classis Huron at which I will be examined for a License to Exhort. The examination is in three parts.
First, I need to present a 10-20 minute exhortation, then for 20 minutes I am to be examined on my biblical and theological knowledge followed by a practica exam which will look at my life etc. All of this takes place in front of the full body of the classis meeting. I need to meet with my examiners sometime in the next 2 or three weeks.
What is this “license” about anyway and why would anyone go to the trouble of acquiring such a thing?
Church Order of the CRCNA states the following: The classis may grant the right to exhort within its bounds to persons who are gifted, well informed, consecrated, and able to edify the churches. When the need for their services has been established, the classis shall examine such persons and license them as exhorters for a limited period of time. CRCNA Church Order Article 43.
There is some debate about what exhorting is in comparison to preaching. One online community debated the issue and came up with this distinction: Al Martin pointed out that the difference is the ability to do exegesis. An exhorter may faithfully use the good work of other men, rely on their exegesis, and then put it together with his own thoughts, illustrations and applications and proclaim it to the people. The Preacher’s job, in fact preaching in general is all of those things, while having the preacher do the work of exegesis on his own. By the end of the debate the group seemed to have concluded that the difference is more an artificial one meant to separate those who are ordained from those who aren’t.
So why would anyone pursue this licensure? Good question really. The pay is lousy ($80 for a service plus mileage). You make yourself very vulnerable, both during the process and in leading worship services. The function takes away from your Sunday with your family and church home. It is a lot of work to do a good job of leading worship and presenting God’s word.
And yet, when I have had the privilege of leading the service in our own church, it has been a wonderful and uplifting experience. At the end it has been worth the work and I come away with a pleasant exhaustion a sense of doing what I was supposed to do.
The License is part of the journey that also includes the MDiv work and the life changes that have happened in the past months.
All part of a trip whose destination is still unclear.