Ten Propositions on Being a Minister

Kim Fabricius offers important and suggestive propositions.  As well as providing the link to the post over at Ben Myers’ Faith and Theology, I also want to actually quote the propositions below, in the hope that some or all of my students might read them:

1. Ministers should be able to lead and to organise, but they are not called to be managers – and woe unto the minister who would run the one, holy, catholic, apostolic – and “efficient” McChurch!

Ministers should be able to conduct worship winsomely and to preach
intelligently – but woe unto the minister who would be an entertainer
or cheerleader – or turn prayer into a “resource.”

Ministers should be able to listen, empathise, care, advise, and give
spiritual direction, but they are not called to be therapists, let
alone life-style coaches – and woe unto the minister who would turn out
well-balanced citizens who make the system “work”!

Ministers are not called to be casual visitors, but they should
certainly be sharing in the lives of their people, and meeting them
where they are most truly themselves, in the quotidian as well as the
crisis – often at home and, for chaplaincies, at work – laughing with
those who laugh and weeping with those who weep.

5. Ministers are not called to be scholars, but they need to rediscover their roles as community theologians (as teachers,
not just “facilitators”). Breaking “the strange silence of the Bible in
the church” (James Smart), they must ensure that the scriptures are at
the centre of congregational life, and that their churches are cultures
of learning. They must also ensure that the hermeneutical and ethical
tasks are one, shaping character as well as transforming minds.

Ministers are not called to be scientists or sociologists, but they
should be keen observers of, and articulate commentators on, what is
happening in the world, to enable their congregations to engage their
faith with their life and work, vigilantly discern the signs of the
times, and boldly witness to Christ in the polis.

Ministers are not chairmen of the board, and their ministries should be
exercised collaboratively. And ministers should not be doing what
others can do; otherwise they disempower them and rob them of their own
ministries. Making themselves as redundant and unnecessary as possible,
ministers should help people to discover and deploy their own
particular grace-gifts, equipping the saints for building up the body
of Christ.

8. Ministers
are shepherds – though many a member would prefer a pet lamb. As they
call their flock to new pastures, and to experimental patterns and
models of ministry, they are inevitably going to piss off some of the
fat sheep. So ministers must expect to be butted. Another zoological
metaphor: ministers should be horseflies, not butterflies – better to
be swatted than mounted.

9. Ministers represent the local church to the wider church, and the wider church to the local church – and the church is very wide. You know the story of the Welsh parch
who was finally rescued after years stranded on a desert island, where
he had built a little village: when the sailors asked why he had
constructed two churches, he replied, “That is the one I don’t
attend.” Ministers should nurture ecumenical collegiality. And if it is
said that an ecumenical freeze has set in, Emily Dickinson wrote:
“Winter under cultivation / Is as arable as spring.”

Finally, ministers, remember this: your congregations are unlikely to
resemble the early church in Acts, so whenever you get stressed out,
read Paul’s Corinthian correspondence – and thank God for the awkward
buggers he has given you to love!