Sunday, 17 June 2012

Masterclass in Public Ministry: leadership

The key to effective ministry is to read your times well. As Donna talked about how we do well to fit in with the flow of peoples' lives, know what is happening with sport and television, I actually felt a weight lift. Donna and Warren both talked about how clergy (folk in the church in general actually) seem to project this feeling that we're somehow 'above' those popular elements of culture. We feel as though we 'should' be thinking about deeper things, engaging in 'higher' pursuits. I have often felt a little guilty when I watch TV, for those reasons. I appreciated Donna and Warren's affirmation of our engagement in these activities as part of our effective engagement in public ministry.

As Donna and Warren continued to lead our masterclass, questions occurred to me:

- how can I use media to open up the possibility of, to invite people to consider the possibility of God? for, as Donna said, the internet is affecting us, and we need to affect it.

- is the Bible still the right touchstone for us? Warren told us stories of Coffin and King, who were effective public ministers, and the way that they knew the Biblical story. They were, essentially, preachers. And this is my work. Helping the church to know our story, the Biblical story, for our times, so that we can engage in ministry, in building relationships in the world, effectively and positively. To help the church to continue to reflect on how we can continue to draw on this story, which is, as Warren observed, the greatest, most sophisticated guide to a way to live and worship and know God. And we lamented the way that the Biblical story has been hijacked by people not respecting the whole. Countering which is also part of what I hope to be able to contribute to the life of the Christian community.

- I was challenged to consider how I engage in ministry, as Donna and Warren encouraged us to go about our work with joy. If we demonstrate the joy and privilege it is to be ministers of the Gospel, we can move away from finger pointing with blame and shame towards being examples of living the way of God. What a privilege indeed. And we were encouraged to consider the African American church as an example of communities who found ways to express joy in the midst of dreadful oppression.

- also, this last challenge posed a question around how I frame the stories I tell and choose to tell from a position of joy? yes, there are hard stories that need to be told, but remember to ask the question: where is the hope, the joy?

- how do I 'show up'? In the weeks leading up to this masterclass, Jana named this blog as public ministry, and it got me thinking about how I do engage in public ministry. As a writer and storyteller, I write and tell stories. So my showing up, which relates to the first of my questions, might be to continue to open up this space for the possibility of the Holy, the Sacred, God. So perhaps I need to write more often, see and name what I see, here, rather than a month of silence as has been recently.

- this wasn't a question, but a lovely thought: we do this, public ministry, because we think the love of God is real and if we keep looking we can give love and receive love.

- how can we believe in the power of love? our strength is as a moral, ethical and joyful force for good; our joy, delight, life and love will be attractive and initiating to folk outside Christian community; be reliably kind, loving, present; be heard, be seen, touch each other; live loving lives. 

- Warren or Donna quoted Larry Trent, who said that the arts are going to save the church - if this is true, how can I, an artist, participate and as a minister, encourage & invite artists to participate?

tasty, nutritious, food for thought ... 

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