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Every Methodist pastor of the last 250 years has answered the same set of 17 questions – questions that John Wesley himself asked of all his ministers. They range from the most basic and fundamental issues of Christianity: “Have you faith in Christ” to the complicated: “Have you studied the doctrines of the United Methodist Church and do you believe that our doctrines are in harmony with Holy Scripture?” to the challenging: “Are you earnestly striving after perfection in love?”

But it is number 16 that is the “trick question” for many pastors: “Are you in debt so as to embarrass you in your work?” Of course, they ask this of brand new pastors who are fresh out of seminary and often have substantial...

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