Posts Tagged “ministry”

The final day of the General Assembly is always the least well attended.  It tends to be the pensions, trustees and stewardship type committees.  Short reports and few decisions.

But not today.

The Ministries Council report was remaindered yesterday and so mid-morning the discussion about Ordained Local Ministry began again.  Eventually Assembly voted 200-190 in favour of the Council’s proposals to begin to train people to perform certain ministry functions, including sacraments.

Delv 8. Approve the introduction of an Ordained Local Ministry as outlined in the Report and instruct the Council to bring forward further details of the training process and appropriate legislation to the General Assembly 2012. (Section 1.8.2 – 1.8.5)


Concept of OLM: OLM is conceived as a nonstipendiary form of the ministry of Word and Sacrament, aimed at engaging those with an appropriately tested sense of call towards ordination, but who wish to serve
primarily in a localised ministry. This would often, though not exclusively, be in support of those working in leadership roles as Parish Ministers (whether full-time or part-time). The normal expectation would be that OLMs would offer around 10 hours per week in an unpaid role, though it is recognised that some may find themselves in situations where they are able and willing to offer more time. It is also likely that in some circumstances
OLMs will be appointed to work in other roles specifically designated by Presbyteries, for some of which they may receive payment (eg as a Locum).

I’m all for this development.  I think the reservation of sacraments is much more about power than about praise and I’m glad that the Church of Scotland has taken this positive step.

It raises lots of questions about the role and responsibilities of ministers of word and sacrament but I think that particular discussion is way overdue and one for another post.

It was a shame to see such an empty Assembly Hall making such an important decision.  I wonder when the Assembly will start to register voting like Parliament so you can see who voted and who was absent.

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‘Ministry’ fascinates me.

Reading your thoughts on the ‘What are ministers for?‘ discussion leave me with a kind of split personality.  I agree with almost everything written.

I think ministry is a calling and that there is no job like it but I also think that it has been moulded and shaped through training, rules and the selection process to be more limited that it perhaps should be in terms of style, focus and the kind of qualifications that bring people into ministry.

I spent my teenage years in a manse.  Some of my best friends are ministers.  I have huge respect for them and the work they do.

Almost every week someone asks me when I’m going to become a minister.  I smile and say something like ‘I couldn’t take the pay cut’ when part of me wants to say “what do you think I spend my time doing?’ and the other part of me wonders if that is where I should be heading.

Ministry has become synonymous with ‘The Minister’.  That was the thought that drove my two questions about ministers and congregations.

My answers to my own questions are that congregations are supposed to be ministers.  And ministers are supposed to enable that ministry.

I guess my frustration comes from years of working with churches where this just doesn’t happen.  Too many Congregations default and defer to the Minister and too many Ministers are quite happy with that.  It’s a strange kind of stalemate that doesn’t really work for either party but is hard for them to get past.

I wonder if that is a view that is only mine or if it is prevalent enough to earn the tag ‘model’?

The other issue that drives the question is the one of deployment.  As I said previously, how can we decide how to deploy ministers when we not to be quite sure what their role is and what they are expected to achieve?  And what happens when they just aren’t up to scratch?

Most denominations spend over 90% of their central funding on ministers.  Is that a good use of resources?

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There are lots of conversations about ‘deployment’ and ‘team ministry’ around the churches in Scotland at the moment.  The discussion is mostly driven by questions of money and the size of congregations and if pretty focused on where ministers are sent and how many there are and how congregations can be scoped and grouped so they can have a minister.

The current discussion assumes that ministry in its current form is a good thing and that every congregation benefits from having one.

I don’t think that’s a good place to begin.

No-one is really grappling seriously with the question ‘What are ministers for?’.

I worry that ‘training for ministry’ is really training to be a theologian.  Those aren’t the same things.

I think theological education is vitally important in training for ministry but it doesn’t address most of the tasks ministers undertake.  Community work, counselling, visiting, organising, encouraging, public speaking, marketing…

Until we answer the question “what are ministers for?’ then the conversation about where we put them is premature.

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Seth Godin is shocked.

I was talking to a religious leader, someone who runs a congregation. She made it clear to me that on many days, it’s just a job. A job like any other, you show up, you go through the motions, you get paid.

I guess we find this disturbing because spiritual work should be real, not faked.

I was interested in his perception of religious work because his remarks seem to focus totally on the ‘spiritual’ and not on the ‘work’.

I’m reading Seth’s new book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? where he seems to be suggesting that with hard work we can all become the kind of people who create and add value.  He says that we can’t and won’t be a creative genius all day but that the 5 minutes that we are makes a huge difference.  Why should ministry be different?

In his brilliant book Dangerous Wonder: The Adventure of Childlike Faith Mike Yaconelli tell a story of a preacher he met who was counting the days to retirement, like counting telegraph poles along a long road.  This minister was fed up, tired, drained and burned out.

I’ve met many people who feel like that some days.  I’ve felt like that.  Often.

Spiritual work is hard word.  Some days it feels very much like work, mostly because it IS spiritual work and you feel the pressure to inspire people, to lead and to bring them into the presence of God.

Some days you turn up and go through the motions because it’s work… and we are human.

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Being a youth worker can be a lonely job.  I know that sounds odd, especially given that the job is to spend time with young people and develop good working relationships with all kinds of people.  But the fact is that much of a youth worker’s time is spent on their own, preparing, reading, thinking…

Networks are crucial to help spark ideas, nurture new workers and sustain those of us who have been at this for some time.

The Internet provides lots of ways to keep in touch with colleagues and I’m glad to say that our new Scottish Youth Ministry online network has been a great success.  Almost 40 people have joined in a week!

It was also good to see Youthworks, a real life, in person, network launched last Friday with 50 or so people gathering in Edinburgh.

So, if you are out there and you’re a youth worker then get involved.  There is no excuse for being lonely anymore!

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After discussion with Chris today we decided to create a Scottish Youth Ministry Network online at

This network is for anyone involved in or interested in work with young people in Scotland.  We hope it will be a place where we can support, encourage and resource each other.  So join up and tell your friends.

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I know there are some of you out there… You youth workers doing your thing and blogging about it.

Chris is new to the blogosphere and in his enthusiasm has suggested that we should try to network Youth Ministry Bloggers in Scotland.  I know there is a Scottish Christian page with lots of links to Christian bloggers somewhere that I can’t find now but I haven’t come across anything for Youth Work.

I’m happy to link to people from my site but if we find more than a few of you would anyone be interested in a collective blog where we could share ideas, resources and thoughts?  I’d be willing to set something up if people are interested.

Leave a comment with your blog url if you’re interested and pass the word if you know anyone else who might be.

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