Sometimes we find little nuggets in places we never expect to find them. In fact, I have to say I’m going to refer to someone I might never have predicted I would refer to on this blog.
There was a recent article in the United Church Observer magazine where they interviewed Rev. Brent Hawkes.
While Brent and I have very different approaches to ministry, there is one very key value we share.
Hawkes correctly identifies that the United Church of Canada is making a huge mistake in de-emphasizing the role of clergy.
To be perfectly honest, if I were to consider starting over again in ministry, I would not have chosen the path I have taken. I would have probably saved myself a lot of time, money, and frustration had I taken a lay leadership approach. To many of us, it feels like the church is lifting up lay leadership to be equal to trained, ordained, called, clergy. This is disturbing on many levels to me as one who has undergone scrutiny of call and years of discernment and training. It also raises the point as to whether I have a valid claim to ask for reimbursement of cost and loss of wages over those six years. But I won’t go there…
The church is facing a huge clergy shortage in the very, VERY near future. It’s response? Enable lay people to take their place. People who have less training and scrutiny and let them loose in our churches.
Now, I am not saying all lay people are not cut out for this role, but clearly there is a certain percentage that are capable of doing great amounts of damage.
What the church should be doing is addressing the issue of why we have found ourselves in such a place, and look at emphasizing the role of clergy while finding ways in which we can assist presbyteries and churches in identifying those who have potential calls to serve in professional ministry positions.
Our church is at a point in its life where leadership is going to be a critical element in looking to the future of the church. De-emphasizing the role of the minster is not going to help in this leadership gap. Our churches and the identifiable leader (clergy) need to be visible in our communities and show we are there. Otherwise, we’re just a club that meets in Sunday mornings with elected boards and leadership.
Say what you will about enabling the laity and equipping people for ministry. I agree with this. But, in the end one thing is clear, people still look to their trained, recognized clergy for leadership and direction in the local ministry of the church. As much as I might like it to be different.
I know everyone may not agree with me on this, but in my experience, this is the truth.