I have been thinking about this question since I started my call in July….what is ministry?
When I was in youth ministry before and during seminary, ministry for me was connecting with the youth of the church. It was sending out permission slips and making phone calls. It was getting in the lives of the youth of the church making sure they felt weclome and that they were being treated fairly in the church.
During seminary (at least the educational part) ministry was filling my head with knowledge. I read hundreds of books about the Old and New Testament, Pastoral Care, preaching, basic and not so basic theology, and anything else they could throw at us. Ministry was learning.
I had my internship during seminary and that was a learning experience. Besides learning about the church, the context of ministry, I learned how to apply some of the stuff I read in books to actual ministry situtations. I also learned how to change my name to a title of “Vicar”
The main purpose of ministry for me was relating with people. It was getting out there and getting to know people and hear their stories. As I settle into my first call, my idea of ministry changes — I still believe relationships are key to good ministry. In order to know the context of ministry that you are in, you have to know the people in which you serve. That is fundmental in my opinion…..
But I have expanded that, there are so many behind the scene type things that need to get done, I have been amazed at the type of things that I have needed to do the last three months. There have been things that I have had to deal with that I never learned in seminary or on internship. If it was not for my mentor and colleagues I would not of made it. I have learned that ministry is relating to colleagues because I would never last as a pastor who is out there trying to do things on my own without support.
Ministry is evolving and never really constant, when you think you know what ministry is – it changes into something else. Ministry is thinking a month a head of time, while at the same time reflecting and learning from the recent past.
Even though I have not figured out what ministry is — perhaps I never will, I do know that I love ministry. I love the basic parts of ministry and I love being able to experiment in ministry in the church – to help people find God moments in their life.