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Total Ministry – Ministry Development Team

by Father Ray Hess

I am part of the Total Ministry facilitators’ group for our diocese, led by the Rev. Kay Rohde, the diocesan Mission Developer. We are looking at the whole process for how a congregation becomes a Total Ministry church. A key part of this is forming a Ministry Development Team. This is what used to be called the “Ministry Team.” In the past, this team sometimes functioned as a collective ordained presence for the congregation, with a team of people doing the various ministry tasks often done by clergy in traditional congregations – worship, pastoral care, administration, adult formation. In the past arrangement, the Ministry Team went through a long time of study, following the areas from seminary training for clergy. There were two major problems with doing things this way:

  1. A congregation could end up with a highly trained and prepared Ministry Team and the rest of the congregation on the sideline – this is not Total Ministry!
  2. The focus could end up solely on the internal workings of the church – doing “church work” and not on mission to the larger community.

We are strongly considering changing the title for the team to “Ministry Development Team.” Adding the word “development” to the title indicates that the job of the team is to develop the ministries of the whole congregation. The goal is to have a whole congregation mobilized for ministry, not just a very active core team. Also, the goal is that the whole congregation would be oriented to mission to the larger community and world, especially to how each member does ministry in their daily lives in their family, work, and community. Handling of “church work” (internal church ministry like pastoral care, worship, pastoral care, and administration) would still be important but not have the primary focus. The vision is to become a missional and sustainable congregation.

The Ministry Development Team basically would be doing congregation development for the whole congregation. In this role, the team would be in regular contact with the vestry/mission committee and with any clergy of the congregation. In most smaller congregations, there would be a lot of cross-over between the membership of the Ministry Development Team and the vestry/mission committee. The team would need to be involved in continuing education and formation, so that it would be able to be effective in congregational development for the whole parish/mission.

So how might we do this at St. George’s? How could we call together a Ministry Development Team? What would be the relationship of this team with the vestry? Who has the gifts and motivation and time to be a part of such a team? Most people I know are not looking for more meetings to attend, but being on this team would take time and commitment. I welcome ideas and comments and thoughts about next steps!

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