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In/Out of Ministry?

I was at a friend’s ordination service and someone asked me (as I’ve stepped away from Vicaring about 9 months ago) how it felt being “out of ministry”.

I thought about this curious phrase “in ministry” and then thought of my coming week with three school assemblies talking to hundreds of young people about Jesus.

Out of Ministry?

Or helping out with the Town Pastors blessing the vulnerable, homeless, lonely and in need…

Out of Ministry?

Too often we think of being in ministry as doing Churchy stuff in a churchy building.

Yet since taking a break I do think there is a world of difference between religious activity and Kingdom fruitfulness.

We get confused between Christ’s call and propping up an institution.

I wonder if that which we think is ministry might not be, and that which we don’t think is might actually be God ordained ministry which cause the angels to rejoice in heaven.

Indeed as my wise friend Alan Jenner said when I left Kingswood “Andy’s leaving the Church of England to tell people about Jesus!”

Perhaps we need to rethink what it means to be a Vicar/pastor/Church leader, where making disciples and advancing the Kingdom is prioritised over buildings, fundraising, committees and endless rotas… (and lots of moving chairs!)

Out of Ministry? Was what was called ministry always ministry? If it wasn’t then I’m glad to be out of it.

My friend Mark Rich talks of the Spirit wanting “maximum fruitfulness for minimum weariness but Satan wants maximum weariness for minimum fruitfulness”. –

Perhaps all of us – irrespective of whether we are Vicary or not- need to seek afresh the call of God afresh?

Are we doing what we should be?

Are we doing what we shouldn’t be?

I believe that every Christian who knows, loves and wants to follow Jesus is in full time ministry. Or to put it another way if you love Jesus and have a pulse you are in full time Christian ministry!

Are we too blinkered and selective in the small minority of things we celebrate? When God’s glory is spilling out all over the place, but often unnoticed by us within the Church.

As I stood there at the ordination service in my robes, waiting as bling covered Bishops and Deans processed down the aisle, I thought there was something deeply uncomfortable about the “them and us-ness” of this division of clergy and laity, as though we really think that proper calling involves a ring of plastic around your neck.

Yet the world is full of great Kingdom opportunities, different roles in the body of Christ -indeed Corinthians says if all bits of the body functioned the same then the body would be depleted instead it is our difference that bring its strengths.

Too often we forget that rather than those of us working in an obviously churchy role are (I believe) to equip, empower and enable the cross cultural missionaries we have in workplaces, homes, streets, schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and prisons in every village, town or city in our country and across the world… the people we serve are our key assets, we as clergy are just the team coach an often invisible role of glorifying Jesus through equipping the saints, the boots on the ground, the people at the coalface, living out their faith on their front line. I believe as clergy our role was the largely invisible one of team coach enabling blessing to be released through the people I serve in their contexts.

Mother Teresa talked of “finding you calcutta” – the place God is calling each one of us to serve him-. The missionary God has gone before each one of us preparing for us all opportunity upon opportunity to bless, to be salt and light, to hold out the word that gives life, to be agents and ambassadors of the Kingdom of God.

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