A Shared Blessing
Who is your minister?
You might be thinking of the person you see on Sundays delivering a sermon. Or you might be thinking of some other person who was a minister of the church in the past. But most of us have an idea of what a minister is, right?
But think bigger. Ask someone in the United Kingdom the same question, “Who is your minister?” You will get an entirely different answer. They might answer that they have dozens of ministers. There is the Prime Minister, and then there are all the cabinet ministers who head the departments of the English government. Then, of course, there is the minister in the quaint church down the lane.
What is ministry?
Is it something that only one of these ministers can do? Is some special set of skills and powers granted to someone so they can have a ministry? Well, as it happens, the word ministry is one of the words in the English language that not only comes from Latin, but remains almost entirely unchanged today from its original Latin root: ministri. And the word means to be less than or to be of service to another, among other meanings. And this plays out in some of the other words that share this root. A minstrel is a traveling musician who provides the service of playing songs upon request and providing entertainment. An administrator is someone who assists a group with tasks that help that group to run smoothly. And an administration is supposed to be a structure of ways to serve others, to minister to others.
It is common to think of the ministry of a church as the things the minister does. But it’s just not true. The ministry of a church is all the ways a church is of service in its walls and outside its walls. The ministry of a church comes not from a set of degrees or privileges awarded to one person, but from the willingness of a church to place the good it hopes for in the world at the center of its work and its time together. The ministry of a church is composed of its members, its friends, its administrators, its assistants, and its religious professionals. They are all ministers of the church. They are all serving the mission of the church.
And to assist in the work of shaping and growing the ministry of any church, the common wisdom, at least in the Unitarian Universalist model, is to draw upon the resources and the energy of a group called the Shared Ministry Team. This team was assembled according to the contract that I made with you to assist us all by observing and understanding the ways that our church is doing its ministry and to help us to reflect on ways that our ministry can be strengthened, including undertaking the task of preparing feedback for me, your religious professional. The Mission Ministry Team remains intact and committed to assisting in times when our relations to one another require attention. The Shared Ministry Team’s commitment is to the active ministry of the church, to all of the work all of this church community does on behalf of one another and on behalf of our wider community.
If you’d like to contact any member of the Shared Ministry Team, please do so at their email addresses. I am delighted to introduce your team to you:
Carla Alison (email@example.com)
Jim Cooper (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Nan Kleiber (email@example.com)
Blessings to you all,