Can I moan for a minute?
So, I had the inevitable response from yesterday’s blog…someone (not in my local setting) glad that I’ve ‘seen the light’ and going to start functioning as a pastor should, knowing every one of his ‘flock’ intimately and spending hours on hours drinking tea with every single one and…..you know the rest.
Let me say clearly: In any given week, all through my ministry in the last 10 or so years, I’ve engaged in hours of spiritual/pastoral conversation with people, specifically in times of crisis, where they’ve needed help with an issue, a decision or a problem. I think most folks would say that I’ve been helpful, although I’m far from perfect. That continues to be the case: Is still spend several hours a week in that kind of conversation and setting on a whole variety of issues and topics: everything from illness, to issues of belief, concern, family, reproduction (!), marriage, divorce….everything. Hours of it. I always make time for people….but I cannot be everything to everyone in that way…I can’t know the details of 500 + people and nor should I. That would be irresponsible to believe that I could. I can’t do everyone. Simple as that.
There is always, in leadership, a pastoral aspect of ministry. Always. I embrace that. Thats what I’m reaffirming in the ‘stick blog post. I affirm that even although pastoral work is very much a shared task where I am at Trinity (especially with our Pastoral Worker, Mary and the rest of the Pastoral Team as it develops further) I still don’t believe that just because someone hasn’t had ten minutes with me means that they haven’t received ‘pastoral care.’ What does that say for the vital ministry of others? Its just as important as anything I can bring.
In previous circles, there would be some who’d say that they hadn’t been ‘properly visited’ unless I, as the male part of Tracy and I working together as co-equal partners in ministry had visited. This is lies. And it continues to be lies, even when Tracy and I don’t work formally in that way at the moment. So, I hope thats cleared up that.
What the stick episode has done has been to encourage me that what I’m doing in my ministry is what God would have me do. I focus my attention on different areas: teaching, apostolic/mission development and evangelism – this is what God wants, its how I can best serve the body. The responsibility I’m affirming is that sense of servant guardianship, eldership and oversight…its still needed even in a church with an Eph 4 ministry model. We see it in the epistles as Paul and Timothy appoint those who ‘keep an eye.’ These people weren’t ‘pastors’ as we understand it today…they just weren’t.
The other aspect of Stick that I didn’t articulate is a technical one to do with my job. We have an unusual set up here at Trinity in that I’m neither a Methodist or URC minister. So, the Methodist Superintendent carries the technical pastoral charge of Trinity – he is great – but he is performing an oversight role to allow my ministry to take place technically in accordance with the church rules. Stick highlighted that, beyond the technicalities, I have to fulfil the out working of that charge in the Super’s stead.
So, thanks for letting me get that off my chest! lol I’ve long resigned to the fact that many will misunderstand what I firmly believe my ministry to be. It always takes time to change a culture, but I’m committed to that. I just hope that by continuing to communicate, people will understand where I’m coming from.