In Methodism the usual term for the role I undertake is “Minister”, but recently Methodism went through the drawn-out process of changing the wording of its founding documents and its constitution in order that the words Presbyter and Deacon are used when referring to those who are ordained. For too long the Church has used the term minister, and the phrase “the ministry”, to refer only to those who are ordained, as though it is only those called to overtly representational roles who are carrying out the ministry of the Church.
Language has consequences. One of the consequences of the use of language in this situation is that young members of the Church feel compelled to write blogs like this one. I totally get where Matt is coming from, and agree that being an administrator (a term I find preferable to bureaucrat) is a worthwhile calling – I too actually enjoy meetings, and constitutional analysis, and strategic planning (I’m not so good at the paperwork usually associated with administration or bureaucracy!) – and I grieve for a church that has so longed used words in a particular way that it now fails to properly support its young people in being the people God has called them to be rather than mould them to fit them to a shape of the Church’s own making.
To be honest, as the world changes, I’ve seen the Church try and squeeze those called to representative, ordained roles into particular shapes too, but what Matt highlights is that this issue, that being a Christian, goes beyond ordained roles, and therefore it is right that it is raised as an issue affecting the whole Church. I’m not sure what we can do about it. I do, however, know it is a challenge we in the Church must tackle, and it is one I am committed to working with others, such as Matt, to see if we can change things for the better.
So, thanks Matt, for speaking, I just hope we in the wider Church do a good job of hearing and listening!
And to all, whatever you are called to be and do, travel well.