Sunday, 23 November 2008

what we didn't learn in College

We had a really good Leaders Day this week with Stuart Murray Williams. We’d asked him to talk around ‘what you probably didn’t learn in College and didn’t know you need to know’ - not surprisingly, for Stuart, mission came up at the top of the list. The focus of his point here is that we tend to teach mission in a ministry context whereas the need today is really to teach ministry in the context of mission. Inevitably, some scary issues arose around the validity for the pastoral model for ministry for the future and the viability of smaller congregations being able to support full-time paid ministry. Talk about Turkey’s voting for Christmas! (that’s not to suggest any of my colleagues are anything like Turkeys). It is an interesting discussion, but there is no evidence at the moment to suggest Churches don’t want full-time paid Ministers and this years in-take across our Baptist Colleges is significantly up on previous years (blip or trend, who knows). Where, I believe, the missional challenges need to focus our thinking is not on whether we need ‘capital M’ Ministers, but what kind? For example, I was with a Church one evening this week who are in a ‘Pastoral Vacancy’ trying to help them think ahead and lift their eyes up to God, after having been through a fairly difficult period. We’d done some work around what they believed they did together as a community, which most enhanced their own personal walk with God. After looking at the flip chart list and hearing a few reflections I asked ‘so if this is true, why do you need a Minister?’ – stunned silence. My hope is they will still want to call a Minister, but I also cherish the thought they’ll want to call someone who will focus upon enabling and releasing the latent gifts and personalities embedded in this Church. Of course, they’ll need to find someone who will want to focus their best energies on such things also. As one of my colleagues said after Thursday, ‘we need to work out how to ‘do’ something after today’.


David E. Holt said...

There are probably a lot of smaller churches where the congregation could be well served by calling a retired minister as pastor. The minister wouldn't have to spend every day at the church, allowing him to continue enjoying his retirement - which would no doubt please his wife! Many retired minsters would love to share their experience and expertise with a small family of believers - the church could better provide a smaller salary and the minister would appreciate the extra monthly stipend.
This concept may take considerable thought and much prayer - most congregations have been trained and encouraged to believe that in order to be a "real church" they have to be served by a full-time pastor. But not so - many churches would grow and thrive with an experienced pastor, one who knows how to love and value those courageous souls who have struggled to keep their church open and ministering to their community of believers.

Nigel Coles said...

Absolutely agree David. One practical (of many) seems to be finding this shared mindset between the newly 'retired' and congregation. Many 'retireds' are perceived as wanting to determine the shape and style of a congregation, or being out of touch - but send me some who aren't and we'll see what we can find!