Is it Ministry?

Once again I am sitting at my desk, typing at a keyboard. I have been here all day. In fact I seem to have been here most of the year.
Is this ministry?

I have a list of people I really should go and see, I've heard on the grapevine of a heart attack - I'm not sure how serious -or where she is, or who can tell me. One man will have had his first dose of chemotherapy; another apparently has family problems; there are new worshippers to get to know, long term worshippers I am supposed to be talking to about membership, members we havn't seen for a while that I should be making contact with; a potential chair of Finance Committee to approach; a whole raft of housebound and infirm who would love a visit from their minister - and who their minister would love to visit because such work is the best part of this job. But I have spent the day talking with the architect, arranging a meeting with a charity we may be able to work with, talking with the Convenor of GP about clearing out the cellar, working out an Agenda for tonights Elders' Meeting, sorting through the e-mails and snail mails that wait after last weeks holiday.
Is this ministry?

Most ministers, in many different contexts will know the feeling, but I am just one of a growing number of ministers who are working within multi-church pastorates, spreading myself across four different churches, four locations, four communities, four congregations, four run down buildings. I work with four Elders' meetings, one Stewards' Meeting, three Church Meetings, one Ecumenical Church Council, three Churches Together groupings, four Church Secretaries. I do not do this alone - a non-stipendiary minister works with me across the Pastorate, taking particular responsibility for one church; within the Local Ecumenical Partnership I have a Methodist colleague - but these arrangements are new and we are finding our feet and learning the best ways to work with one another. In the mean time I keep wondering; Is this ministry?

But then just what is ministry? Can ministry in this situation (or any situation) ever meet our expectations? And what are those expectations?

This website explores aspects of ministry, ideas about ministry and take us into the strange postmodern world of cyberspace. In doing so we might experience something of ministry in a multi-pastorate environment. There is no beginning and no end, you will follow a link to wherever it leads you, and then realise that you need to return to an earlier point and explore that further. I write this as if it will be an introduction, but for you it may be a conclusion, or you have come to it having first explored other areas of the site, you may be feeling disorientated, confused or overwhelmed. Such emotions express something of my experience about this ministry; four different churches bringing a constant need to change my patterns of thinking, to switch from the priorities of one congregation to the needs and challenges of another. A four, five even six week gap between Sunday worship can leave me feeling like a visitor again - not sure how the church has evolved during this time, unable to ascertain who is new and who is missing. I am fragmented and pulled in many directions.

Is this a successful Post-modern Ministry or is it Ministry as it has always been?

Five years on and the first paragraph still feels familiar. I've probably become better at managing my time - in that there are certain church activities - Bible Studies, Housegroups, midweek services, that get first call on my diary - and I use some of those occasions to prepare myself and those who attend for Sunday's theme. But the pastoral work is still a struggle and there are times when I still seem to be doing too many things that might be better done by someone else.

It is the Pastorate situation that has moved on. The four church Pastorate really didn't work - for some of the reasons that will be clear even as you read the above the comments, but also because of personality issues. Today I have pastoral charge of two churches, Pastoral oversight of another am a full member of the Circuit Staff team and am the District Pastoral Convenor - trying to juggle a deployment target of 15.5 ministers into 44 worshipping communities which are divided into 26 Pastorates!

Time to move on:-
Hit a link, any link, where does it take you from here?

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A Postmodern Ministry? Art and original art work © Craig Neil Muir, August 2000