More ideas about ministry

20 Dec

Here I want simply to collate a couple of challenging and inspiring quotations, from my recent pickings.
What loosely holds them together is a vision of authentic, practical ministry itself inspired and shaped by serious and engaged theological reflection. That’s what I think we really need to be about, those of us in this ‘church’ thing.

Nancy Ammerman, in her Congregation and Community (1997) presents this provoking idea:

    ‘Someone has to see the connection between the congregation as it now exists and the congregation as it might someday exist. Someone has to imagine that it might remain spiritually and socially rewarding for its participants. While lay leadership is important, pastors emerge here as critical players in the process of change.’ (page 326).

Loren Mead has written a work on Transforming Congregations for the Future (The Alban Institute, 1994). She offers at pages 48 – 52, a brief sketch of the nature of ministry in a local congregation. The elements of this ministry are not all that we might have imagined, but they are rather inviting!:—

    strangers meet on common ground;
    fear of the stranger is faced and dealt with;
    scarce resources are shared and abundance is generated;
    conflict occurs and is resolved;
    life is given colour, texture, drama, a festive air;
    people are drawn out of themselves;
    mutual responsibility becomes evident and aid possible;
    opinions become audible and accountable;
    vision is projected and projects attempted;
    people are empowered and protected against power.

Holding these two thoughts together, I find myself asking how we get from what we currently know to this latter vision, and in such a way that the reality of faith and life in God is preserved. The latter vision is not just a social vision. It is a vision of responsive and responsible life together, which values human community in relationship. This must be seen as the character of community with and in God. It is a community of and like the community of God. As the first quote says, someone has to make this connection, in thought and in practice!
This is a vision to pursue. Much to be thought about, and much to work through together.

3 thoughts on “More ideas about ministry

  1. Frank,
    I am encouraged by the connection Ammerman assumes between vision and imagination. I often find the whole notion of vision so spiritualized as to be out of reach. Imagination, on the other hand, is so much more within us, so full of immediate, inclusive and creative possibility.
    Perhaps vision has much more to do with a sanctified imagination than some out of body experience. If this is so, then our task, in part at least, is nurturing a theoligical imagination within the life and ministry of our students.
    By the way, I had always thought Mead was a ‘he’

  2. Good words, Simon. Thanks for these insights.
    I think you are right, the thing that’s needed is imagination. I have done some thinking about this, and supervised some work on theological imagination. There’s not a lot of imagination in some of that, either!
    This is one of those limit situations: I reckon you can’t teach imagination. The most you can do is try to put people in the way of it, and perhaps try to help remove some of the road-blocks. One of them is the idea you name: that ‘vision’ is a kind of ‘spiritual’ thing that only certain kinds of people have.
    Another is the idea that many people have that they are not creative, or do not have ideas worth mentioning. Some people may not be creative, but far more people are than we generally recognize, or who recognize it in themselves.
    But still I think Ammerman is right. We have to hold together an accurate sense of where we are now and a sense of where we might be. This is what John V Taylor says the prophets had, a kind of double-vision, or he called it bi-sociation. It means seeing two realities, but seeing them as directly related to each other, one as the present reality truthfully seen, the other as the Spirit’s calling and possibility.
    I pray for that kind of ‘seeing’.

  3. Frank,
    I just wanted to say thank you for the kind words you left on my blog regarding my father. It really was thought-provoking and insightful. Thanks again.
    The Two Crabs

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