Friday, 4 July 2014

Making the ALL in all-member ministry real - Part the second

Are you sitting comfortably? Good - then we'll begin:

Once upon a time in a church not that far from where I sit there was a minister who was very sad for they were ALWAYS working - the problem being that there was no one to do the jobs and so EVERYTHING fell to them. Well, that was What the minister told me anyway!

Then, one day, I happened to bump into one of the members of the congregation of that selfsame church who told me a very different story! They told me of the situation in their church and from where they were standing it seemed that the Minister was doing everything letting nobody have a go at anything. The church member spoke of how even the most simple of jobs were kept close to the minister's chest rather than be distributed or shared among the willing of the parish (and there were apparently some willing people). 'People have just got fed up and stopped offering now,'  they said, 'After all what's the point of fighting?'

I was really glad to have met the parishioner because the ministers position as stated seemed to honest and true and left me feeling quite sorry for them. There was I thinking what a hard done by person they were and how horrible the church members were and if only they would get behind them and then the words of proverbs 18.17 struck home:

'one person's story sounds believable until you hear the story from the other side!

(remember this - it makes all of life function better)

As I began to dig deeper I found the ministers experiences were full of people who had been trained and released and failed. There were people who had offered but never turned up when the need was present. Others still had come talking of how they wanted to be doing and yet when the time came to be doing always had a reason for their absence.  The tale of woe continued with accounts of those who did do stuff doing it their own way and 'for themselves' (a rather subjective and mind-reading assessment in my book) and delivering whatever they did poorly - all  of which meant that the minister had to redo, make do, or perform badly in the services and functions of the church.

So the bottom line was that in the end the Minister stopped offering and stopped asking and just 'got on with it'  and, as if supporting the Minister, the congregation stopped offering and stopped asking and merely, like the Minister, complained to whoever would listen to their sad and sorry tale.

All member ministry is like being in a marriage - it's all about communication, understanding and lot of' give and take'.  Sometimes the lines of communication are confused, perhaps because it's a developing relationship,  and sometimes the confusion comes by assuming you know the need or the person and acting, with the best intentions, wrongly.

All member ministry works best when the person with the need states it clearly to those who might be able to meet that need. The hearer, in turn, hearing that need should go off have have a think, pray, and consider whether they are the person to do what is needed. Having decided that the answer is either 'yes' or' no' (for there is no place for' maybe') then the volunteer and the person with the need, assuming they know how to resolve it themselves*, get together and the relationship and the resolution to the problem is formed and enacted.

Simple innit?

Well that's what they said they wanted on the cake!
* One of the great problems in Church is the fact that whilst being aware of the need the leader might not possess the skills or abilities to resolve it and yet they still try to teach what they cannot do to someone who will never do it well and thus begins a vicious cycle that leads to doom, gloom and destruction. This is what hell on earth is made from :-)

Be careful how you answer critical questions!

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