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Total Ministry – Forming Ministry Teams

By the Rev. Ray Hess

     St. George’s is living into being a Total Ministry congregation.  The basic idea of Total Ministry is to mobilize the ministries of the all the baptized, according to each person’s spiritual gifts.  The ministries of the congregation are organized through ministry teams.  Many churches have committees which do ministry; what is the difference between a ministry team and a committee?

 Image    Both ministry teams and committees oversee various ministries of the parish.  What sets ministry teams apart is that they are meant to be learning and praying communities.  For example, an adult formation ministry team might plan and implement adult education programs for the congregation, such as special classes for Lent.  At this point, the ministry team would function like a committee.  The adult formation ministry team also would meet together to pray for one another and for the guidance of the Holy Spirit for what the parish does in adult formation.  The team could also discuss what the purpose and goals of adult formation should be for the parish, as well as exploring various resources for classes and seminars.  Team members might attend seminars about adult formation through the diocese or seminary.  Again, the special focus of a ministry team is that it is a community of people who pray, learn, and act together.

     Another important characteristic of ministry teams is that people serve on them according to their spiritual gifts, talents, and sense of calling by God.  This is very different from serving because a person feels an obligation to do it, or because they were recruited to serve.  In my example about adult formation, people would serve on this team because they have skills and interest in adult education and feel called by the Holy Spirit to serve in this way.  There is great joy and satisfaction to being in ministry for which you are gifted and which matters deeply to you.

     At St. George’s, we have had several Interim Ministry Teams which continued the ministries of the parish during the interim period after Fr. John Mangels retired and before calling a Priest in Charge.  These teams are Pastoral Care, Worship, Outreach/Evangelism, Christian Formation, and Administration, and they are still carrying on the ministries of our parish.  As we move forward in Total Ministry, we can continue these teams and begin to expand their work to include the prayer and learning aspects described above.  We do not have to accomplish this all at once; we can gradually develop each of the teams, focusing on one or two at a time.  As we do this, we may decide to create a new ministry team or perhaps change the purpose of one of the existing teams.

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