dna ii

observation no.2, which i alluded to in my last post, is the affirmation of 'lay' ministers. this is something that is not restricted to the frex community of course, it's something which is very much part of the dna of new wine too, however both those communities appear to struggle with how an affirmation of lay ministry happens without simply subsuming it into a type of pseudo-ordained ministry and thus, in reality, denigrating both.

again this is something that maggi, being an ordained woman who is secure in her calling, avoided, but was apparent in the conversations that i had with others at the conference, although not all.

i mention this more because it is a trend that i have begun to see in both economies - parish and frex/emerging. there is seemingly an ambivalence as to what it mean to be a priest/leader, what does the collar mean? there's a reaction against the superiority that has been attached to the collar historically - a very right reaction in my opinion. however i firmly believe that the response, whilst noble, has taken a turn which will in fact cause serious problems in the future, and particularly for ordained women, who, now they have been 'allowed' to be ordained, discover that what they have fought for, not in terms of 'rights', but in terms of the mission of God, means, precisely, nothing - for now everyone, regardless of corporate discernment, sacrifice, training, is included in the ordination call.

everyone is ordained...so no-one is.

this is probably particularly a problem for evangelicals, actually that's a question - is this particularly a problem for evangelicals?

us evangelicals who talk about the ordained in terms of leadership rather than priesthood.

perhaps this is what the term 'leader' does, because we know that people can be leaders even if they're not ordained, so in order not to make the ordained leader 'special' or 'magic', we just make everyone 'leaders', and so the distinctive ministries of lay and ordained are lost. in the end, the use of the word 'leader' does the opposite of what it's trying to do. it's trying to make everyone feel significant, but because it loses the notion of 'distinctiveness' along the way, we get swallowed up in a soup of sameness.

i believe that we are all valued and loved by God, called by him to our particular ministries - and because of this i believe in distinctive ministries, ordained and lay, which are not to be subsumed, one into the other, but to be celebrated, encouraged and recognised. in this way each person is celebrated, encouraged and recognised.

it may seem that i'm being a bit harsh on the terminology, well perhaps, and again this is something that has diversity within fresh expressions too (i suspect that it depends on the evangelical/catholic heritage, but i'm not sure), but words matter, they form our societies and determine where we're going. so best have a look at their meaning, yeah?


Curate Karen said...

i think about what it means to be wearing a collar a lot when i'm walking around in the parish or visiting people. it is a statement, to wear it. and because i'm new at this, i am often wondering as i walk, what is it that i'm 'stating' by wearing this collar? it is a visible sign. for me, it is a visible sign that i have dedicated my life to serving others, and that i have the backing of the wider church to do so in this visible way. i totally believe in the 'priesthood of all believers', and as an evangelical myself, i think of my role in terms of leadership and example. but i think of it as serving others, and not as superiority, i hope.

jody said...

well it isn't about superiority, but i wonder if we are still wrestling with how we understand 'different' or 'distinctive' in a way that doesn't mean 'better' or 'superior'.

if we must use the term 'leader' i think i prefer a form of matt redman's 'leader worshipper' and call us 'lead followers' instead. it is a reminder of the 'called out' aspect of being ordained, you are 'called out' of the group and yet are fully identified with it too.

and yet, i think that the term 'leader' loses something of the aspect of priesthood that we are called to. and in the way that we are a priesthood of all believers (not a biblical term), i believe in those who are 'called out' to catalyse others in that - perhaps what you would call 'example'?

there is also this challenge that i give in that because we are aware of the secular nature of leadership - and very aware that there are lots of leaders in our congregations (some who move towards lay ministry as a distinctive), then we get a bit agitated about how 'this' leader, who is ordained, is different from 'that' leader, who is not. and so we end up saying that they are not different (because we inherrantly 'hear' superior), and so lose the distinctive ministries.

i actually believe that understanding our distinctiveness and celebrating it, is more faithful to our being the image of God, and is also more honouring of lay ministry than simply making it, as i said, a 'soup of sameness'

what do you think?

Tim Goodbody said...

slightly off topic but still relevant, I thought you like to see this

which I found via this chap

I hope term gets underway peacefully