At the end of 2007, I remember having an exchange with the BOOM (Board of Ordained Ministry) registrar about my written exams.
I had turned in everything that was required of me for provisional elder status — that is, except VHS tapes of my sermon. We were required to send copies of a worship we led as part of the exams/application.
And I distinctly remember thinking, VHS tapes? Where can I go to make copies on a VHS tape? I didn’t have a VCR anymore. (It’s almost 2008). On top of that, my video camera was a digital camera.
So I said, screw it, and sent in DVDs of the worship service. That would also save me money as DVDs are lighter and a lot less bulkier than VHS tapes (we had to send like 4-6 separate copies)
The registrar emailed me saying that I need to submit VHS tapes. I told the Registrar that it was funny that he was contacting me through email about VHS tapes.
But I told the Registrar that I simply couldn’t turn in VHS tapes because I wouldn’t know where to begin hunting down a VCR player and where to begin in trying to convert digital to VHS and pointed out that people at that time are moving the other, converting VHS to digital/DVD. (Yes, I know I was being lazy).
The Registrar informed me that it may hurt my chances of moving forward if a BOOM member couldn’t see my worship video because they did not have access to a DVD player. They wouldn’t be able to grade my video on how I led worship and therefore, I wouldn’t be able to pass the exams.
So be it, I said. If I don’t pass because the BOOM members want younger candidates to use outdated technology — technology that schools would be ridiculed if they used it; technology that not even the public libraries of Hawaii uses — then that’s more on the BOOM than on me.
Only by the grace of God, did I become a provisional elder.
It bugged me then and it bugs me now: but why do we tend to be so slow in being with the times? December of 2007 was well into the extinction of the VHS and yet, the BOOM required its candidates to send VHS tapes — because its board members didn’t have DVD players?
Why do we insist on people going back in time to be where the church is at — rather than meeting the people where they are at?
I remember the struggles of introducing multimedia to a congregation a while back and how much flack I received that first Sunday and yet how most of them loved it by the time it was time for me to go.
When did we become so inflexible? Is that what happens when bureaucracy replaces ministry?
I understand the importance (and the necessity) of moving forward slowly; methodically; purposefully; but sometimes, I think we move so slow, we’re barely moving at all.
By the way, thankfully the BOOM doesn’t require VHS’s anymore. I think that was about 2009 or 2008. Better late than never, I suppose.