Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pioneers..Called or hired?

Good morning God,

Our Pioneer Mission Leaders project has me worrying about Esau, and Barnabas, and a whole host of other 'also rans' who appear in scripture. How did those who were essential to the plan of salvation and the proclamation of the gospel, but who are even now still perceived by many to be of secondary importance, feel about their role?
Did Barnabas resent not being Paul? Did John Mark leave because Paul did not think he was of the same calibre as a missionary as Titus or Timothy?
What will the creation of 'Pioneer Mission Leaders' do to the current understanding of Presbyteral and lay ministry for those with a passion for mission?

What's in a name?
Everything - for you call us - by name.

Ministry is not a job that people do, it is an expression of who they are before you. I do not do the job of a Presbyter, I AM a presbyter.
If the same is not true of those we are calling Pioneer Mission Leaders - then who would want them? If all we are looking for is hired hands, then we would do well to recall Christ's words and the comparison that he draws between the hired hand and the good shepherd.
This is the problem when we 'recruit' instead of 'call' people to discern ministry - lay or ordained.
We create the impression that we want people with particular skills willing to DO a particular job for which we will offer suitable remuneration. What we actually want is for people to discern the name you are calling them by, and be prepared to stand up if they hear it called.

Most of the Presbyters I have met and trained over the last ten years already believe that they are called to pioneer the proclamation of the gospel for this generation. They are rightly convinced that they are already engaged in Mission, and the church has already placed them in positions of leadership - so should they apply for the new posts?
Or should they stay in circuit ministry?

When they hear the word Presbyter they hear the words Pioneer Mission Leader', but presbyters are stationed, and pioneers are appointed - WHY? Why aren't at least 50% of these posts part of the stationing process?

Where does a presbyter best discern your call - in the stationing system with members of the Church, Circuit and District or in the job application process and an appointment panel?

Has the Church considered what will it do to a Presbyter's self-understanding, to their sense of call if they are not 'selected' or 'appointed'? Are they prepared to support those who will return to circuit ministry no longer believing that they are called to mission, to pioneer or to lead?

What's in a name?
Esau or Isaac?
Benjamin or Joseph
Barnabas or Paul?
John Mark or Timothy?
Presbyter or Pioneer?

It really shouldn't be the difference between being called or hired.

I think God, that we are stuck in an uncomfortable position - for a church that has always placed great store on discernment as an essential component of ministry, we are in danger of losing something very important by hiring rather than discerning our pioneer mission leaders.
Why not use our candidating process - open it to both lay and ordained - but require the same assent from local church, circuit, district and Conference?

Meanwhile - God - can you please shout at all our Presbyters who have a heart for mission to apply for these posts..
The Church needs to hear that most of its presbyters want to be free to pioneer mission and lead the proclamation of the gospel - its what we feel called by you to do.

Most of all God, teach our Church to call us by name - not by job title, and to call us yours, so that whatever it is we do in your service as part of this Church really is an expression of our relationship with you and our commitment to proclaim the name of the Lord.

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