Everyone on board Changing patterns of ministry
“A goal without a plan is only a wish” proclaimed the screen-saver, motivationally! It could also be comment on church initiatives of the last four decades. Initiatives have come and gone and largely they have left ordinary people untouched.
The reason for this is that they have had no sustaining plan. Or a plan incomprehensible to other than a select few. An exception has been Alpha, with its clear plan and aim that can be adapted to local circumstances.
The other exception is Local Ministry (otherwise Local Collaborative Ministry or Every Member Ministry). There is a clear aim: to be a new way of being church, faithful to New Testament teaching on ministry and responsive to local context. There is a plan:
• To have the different ministries of all mutually recognised throughout the church
• To equip lay people as fully as possible
• To stop clergy being ‘solo artistes’
• To become better informed about the local community needs and to respond appropriately.
There are myriads of ways in which we can be God’s pilgrim people. Equally there is variety in how God’s love is proclaimed by word and action. Each show God’s Kingdom and allow the individual to grow in faith. One Local Ministry Group, un- used to either chairing a meeting or leading public prayers agreed to try each in rotation. When her turn came to pray, one lady said very timidly, “I couldn’t find a prayer which says what I wanted so I wrote my own, but it’s very short”. It was, but wonderfully so because it was her speaking from the heart. Today
20 www. countryway. org. uk
the timidity has gone, she leads worship in her parish church. She has grown so far beyond her own expectations.
“A goal without a plan is only a wish”
In another benefice of four parishes there are two expressions of Local Ministry. In one area, having grown their own local ministers, lay and ordained, they have moved to the point where the congregations take responsibility for pastoral care. In the other the Ministry Group are fundamental to lively worship and a mid-week café-style church. Together they free the vicar to develop and sustain an active and growing youth church which attracts teenagers from beyond the immediate area.
Local Ministry has never thought of itself as propping up the status quo. It is a tool for Mission and outreach. But it’s equally true that Local Ministry has enabled
the parochial system to survive and even flourish. Without it overwork and burnout would produce collapse where the priest with eight or nine or more churches continues to try to do it all. Sharing leadership and mutually recognising gifts means there is no interruption in ministry when there is a vacancy.
Local Ministry has begun to breathe new life into small rural churches and enabled them to be leaders in vibrant communities. It is time that the urban and suburban church caught the same vision. For too many ‘One Church, one Faith, one Baptism’ has become ‘One church, one parish, one vicar!’ It is time to recognise and celebrate that all, baptised people have gifts of mission and ministry which need to be honoured and enjoyed by the church and those who are not yet its members. Now, that would be wish fulfilment!
Formerly Local Ministry Officer for the Diocese of Hereford
| Page 2
| Page 3
| Page 4
| Page 5
| Page 6
| Page 7
| Page 8
| Page 9
| Page 10
| Page 11
| Page 12
| Page 13
| Page 14
| Page 15
| Page 16
| Page 17
| Page 18
| Page 19
| Page 20
| Page 21
| Page 22
| Page 23
| Page 24
| Page 25
| Page 26
| Page 27
| Page 28
| Page 29
| Page 30
| Page 31
| Page 32