A View from The Bridge
Rev Chris Skilton
Ministry - the challenges ahead
of England Closing Down! Everything Must Go!
spokesman blamed the closure on a failure to recruit enough managers to staff
its 10,000 outlets nationwide.
number of stipendiary clergy is falling and will continue to fall. The harsh
realities of clergy recruitment and church finances will see to that. But
that's not the whole story and may not even be the main story.
years have seen the rediscovery of the importance of the vocation of the whole
people of God. Twenty years ago an ecumenical report brought to our attention
the place of baptism as 'the sign and seal of our common discipleship'. This
far-reaching document described the ministry of the whole people of God as
'called to use the gifts they have received for the building up of the Church
and for the service of the world to which the Church is sent.'
Vocation arising out of baptism means a priestly people who together, ordained
and lay, live and work and pray for the kingdom of God in the place in which
they are set. There are already plenty of examples of creative partnerships of
clergy and laity working out the implications of this in the church and in the
will be new challenges ahead. Clergy will need to let go of certain tasks and
responsibilities to allow others more appropriately called to undertake them.
The vocation of every Christian to 'live and work to God's praise and glory'
must be affirmed in our worship and church life. The pecking order all too
often heard in intercessions of prayer for missionaries, clergy, medics,
teachers and then the rest must be replaced by a recognition that all are
embrace this way of thinking brings important questions. How will we respond to
these key concerns? What does a church which accepts that are all called to
ministry and service look like? How can people be set free to live out their
vocation within and beyond the walls of the church? How will the church help
each person to discern their calling? Which of our current structures help or
hinder these developments and how will we nurture what is helpful and change
what is restrictive? Will we be prepared (or allowed) to risk new patterns of
Christian service and ministry?
may be far harder questions to grapple with than which church can or cannot
have a stipendiary priest in future - and yet it is in the answering of them
that the seeds of the growth and renewal of the Church lie.