Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Stuff Happenin' at Church

Our lay ministry training program may be in a moribund state these days -- our facilitators communicate solely via notes on their website -- but lay ministry is being kicked up into a new gear at my congregation this summer. This week we assisting ministers will be meeting with the pastor to talk about how we can expand the parameters of our duties in our congregation.

My pastor is looking ahead to the day when he retires. He really wants to create a congregational culture in which "Herr Pastor" is not the be-all and end-all of ministry. With trained lay ministers on deck, and with the congregation about to move into a new worship space, it seems to be a good time to retool around here.

Especially in the context of my own paid-job malaise...I'm looking forward to this discussion. Maybe I'll finally discover what I want to do when I grow up.

6 comments:

P.S. an after-thought said...

I think I would like your pastor. I like his attitude. This sort of encouraging of the saints has happened at our church, but not for such deliberate reasons. We have several worship leaders, many lectors, and about a dozen people who can give a credible sermon. The Bible School has been entirely lay led for years, pastor not 'EXPECTED' to be part of the leadership, but probably just participating.

It is really healthy when the pastor doesn't, can't, won't, do somethings.

MikeF said...

Isn't it good when it goes like this? Our new Vicar is very firmly of the opinion she shouldn't be everything, or even the centre of everything... Pastoral Team meetings are getting exciting, with a real sense of getting out there and doing the stuff that needs doing, all of us!

I like your sense of "when I'm all growed up," LC. I still feel like that, however few and however grey my hairs may be these days...

Deb said...

I'm a member of a progressive UCC church in a tiny NH town, and we are a very small church. We were blessed with our revious "settled" pastor who forced us to reorganize ourselves and who spent much of his 11 year ministry with us empowering us to "be the church". During his last sabbatical with us, the diaconate decided to take on pastoral leadership for the duration, arranging for ordained clergy to assist when necessary (funerals, weddings, an emergency we didn't feel equipped to handle.) We provided 3 months of nourishing worship, entirely laity-led, and provided regular pastoral care. When he returned we continued to take on larger roles. We established a Visitation team and a Worship team and when he resigned his call last year, we moved on as the NURTURE team to provide worship leadership, visitation and pastoral care until we called a very part-time interim pastor. While some of the oongregation feels a bit lost and unsure of things, we are continuing to explore what we feel called to do, and we're in the process of discerning who we want/need in new settled pastorate. It's exciting, exhilarating, scary at times, but it is church. Our former pastor always kept telling us "It's the clergy's job to eliminate themselves" -- not 100% seriously but definitely to stop setting themselves apart and above the laity.
It can be a bit scary -- as I'm finding out today. I'm the coordinator of our Nurture team (formerly the deacons) and I got a call from our local funeral director who needs the pastor and needs to schedule a funeral. I can't get in touch with her and we've both left messages for her in several places. . . . .

LutheranChik said...

Yipes.

One of my assisting-minister colleagues did last-minute funeral duty on behalf of our pastor last year when he was on vacation -- just a sad situation with a non-churchgoing individual with a marginal family connection to our church, whose family wanted us to be involved somehow. It worked out okay.

My pastor envisions lay ministers doing the lion's share of ministry in underserved parishes in the years to come -- they'll be under the guidance of perhaps a regional hub of pastors, but will otherwise be on their own; somewhat like the RC model of parish administrators doing a lot of pastoral ministry in the absence of priests.

Fortunately, our parish seems pretty accepting of laypeople stepping up and leading. I know this isn't always the case in congregations.

Verdugo said...

Heck, when I was in parish ministry, even the associate pastors (espeically female) weren't always seen as "real" pastors. All too often when I made a hospital visit I'd hear, "how nice that you're here, but when is the pastor coming?" Nice that's changing at least in your neck of the woods.

btw, WE know what you're gonna be when you grow up... but we'll wait til God writes the final chapter (wink).

LutheranChik said...

"With all the saints in glory"?...