On the Way
So the following thoughts might be contentious and if they ‘rub you up the wrong way’ please do respond and I will publish your reply.
As Readers / Licensed Lay Ministers we are ‘of the Diocese’ and of the “Church of England” rather than being ‘done-to’ as participants in it. We are part of the wider ministry team that includes all licensed minister, both Lay and Ordained and we have a duty to be the positive, helpful, enthusiastic and optimistic face of that ministry team.
We may not like initiatives, changes and policies and should, quite rightly, express our opinions- but in the right place. That right-place is in the ministry teams in our own areas, to our Deanery Reader Stewards, to the Reader committee or perhaps even as a discussion piece for other readers to put in the chaplain’s webpage. To the congregations, and to our wider communities however we need to make the most of the opportunities to “build up the people” as Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians.
The ‘On The Way Survey’ has had mixed reviews in my conversations with Readers, but it is an important tool in attempting to see how the wider community sees us. How can we respond to the needs of the community unless we know what those people think ? I suspect when we send it out in the Camborne Redruth area we might find that the community likes the church buildings, likes the being there for hatch, match and despatch, Remembrance and Christmas but otherwise finds us largely irrelevant, if not strange! I will be using social media among other things to encourage as many folks as possible to fill it in because we want a representative sample. I hope a few folks might be going out to those without access to technology with a paper version!
Whatever the findings, it will help shape our response. Yes, I know we cannot ask everything but you have to draw a line somewhere. An addition the multiple choice lists of, “keep everything the same in church until I have shuffled off this mortal coil”, or “bring back one priest for every church” do not make the cut!
The Church, and that means us as Readers as well as everyone else is under enormous pressure- as a the merry band of Licensed Lay ministers we have a duty to to hep the wider ministry team “build up the people” which might mean supressing our natural cynicism of new initiatives.
As a deputy / head teacher we had certain categories of people you really did not want in your staffrooms or Governor meetings and the same applies to church councils and indeed any teams that are trying to get something done.
- The “I hear what you are saying but…. “ person, which means’ I am not listening to you because my view is the only one that is important’.
- The “yes, but…… It won’t work because……” usually slightly patronising
- The “we tried that years ago- it didn’t work” usually very patronising,
- The silent, arms across the chest one who only gives an opinion outside the meeting and it is always negative. The one mitigating feature is that they are AT the meeting and not one of the ones who would never be on a committee because they would have less time for complaining behind backs.
- The “we belong to do it that way” or “we have always done it that way” ( I have heard that one numerous times about weekly Sunday Eucharist when I know full well that I was taking Matins services!)
Let us be cheerful and positive out their folks – there is enough gloom and doom and the gloomy and doomed are destined for a sad time. Jim