Meet the MEG Manual
By Jill Carr
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11–13 NIV).
This passage is a fitting dedication to the “Ministerial Education and Guidance Manual of the Free Methodist Church USA” (commonly known as the MEG Manual). As the name implies, this is a resource intended to guide and benefit those seeking to enter the ministry of the Free Methodist Church USA along with serving as an essential manual for members of conference Ministerial Education and Guidance (MEG) Boards.
The Rev. Dr. Steve Tungate serves as the director of the denomination’s Center for Pastoral Formation, which is based at Greenville University. In an interview, he shared some of his insights as the author and compiler of the new 2022 edition of the MEG Manual. He described the role that the Center for Pastoral Formation plays in connection with the MEG Boards.
“We’re looking to provide resources to the annual conferences — to their MEG Boards,” he said, “to be able to provide the guidance for their women and men who are going through the process of ordination, for those who are looking to serve as deacons and also for clergy care and continuing education.”
He went on to explain the need for the new edition, to “provide an update to the MEG Manual to reflect our current standards and practices for ordination and clergy care and continuing education.” Although the ordination process still follows the outcomes-based ordination model, one important phrase that Tungate referred to was the concept of a flexible baseline.
“What we mean by that is that we need to raise the baseline standard for ordination credentialing — and in that we also want to be flexible, so it can be contextualized to the various conferences and regions based on the cultural makeup of each of the conferences,” Tungate said.
“We do find that a lot of people will transfer from one conference to another when they’re serving in ministry. We want to make sure that when someone transfers from one conference to another, the receiving conference can be assured that the person has been well-trained and equipped and well-vetted. So with the MEG Manual, we wanted to provide a manual that provides the resources as well as articulates what that standard is, and the places where we can be flexible as well.”
He also discussed two common misconceptions about ordination. One is the idea that the process is just a series of boxes to be checked off.
“It’s more than checking the right boxes,” he said. “It’s about making sure that people are thoroughly equipped, trained, educated and ready for the challenges that they’ll face.”
The second misconception is the idea that once people have received a call to ministry, they are automatically ready to step into that role. While the Holy Spirit does call people to and gift people for the ministry, those gifts still need to be equipped and cultivated.
“We live in a day and age of relativism on so many levels, so the theological training can’t be emphasized enough,” he said, “It’s critical that women and men serving in ministry know how to, first of all, understand biblical truths and also to be able to articulate them as well as put them into practice.”
Tungate pointed out that this edition of the MEG Manual is not the end of the story. “Although we are going to be releasing the MEG Manual soon, we also see this as a work in progress. So it’ll still be something that we will continue to add to and edit. It will continue to evolve over time, so although we’re presenting this, we’re also continuing to develop new ministries through the Center for Pastoral Formation.”
Jill Carr is a Greenville University senior who served a summer internship with Light + Life. She is an English major with a Spanish minor. She grew up in rural Illinois between the small towns of El Paso and Gridley. Along with writing, her other creative pursuits include art, illustration and practical crafts.