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’.