Wednesday, 27 February 2008

The salt of the earth

At Highleigh Conference centre. At the Connexional Lay Workers Conference. Great. Why is that Methodist Lay Workers seem so optimistic and open about the future? Far more than, say, groups of presbyters like myself sometimes appear to be? Is it that they are living in cloud cuckoo land? Or can they see what others cannot about the leading of God and the infilling of the Spirit? Or am I just with a peculiar and exceptional group of optimists? Any suggestions?


Anonymous said...

I belive that often it is because Lay workers spend most of their time dealing with people not with the structures of the institutional church.And perhaps more importantly, they are not tied as closely to the institutional church for the direction of their ministry - engaged in fresh expressions - or they are not as worried about their future careers or their salaries, as presbyters. Their contracts are often only three - five years, so they can live more freely.

Anonymous said...

Martyn, I don't believe they are exceptionally optimistic. They have to work on the ground with real people, and they see real changes in people's lives over time.

Many ordained people are only in post for a relatively-short time, so the chances of getting close to people and seeing them change is less.

And the leading of God is so much wider than Methodism, and they get to know more about that, while ordained people generally only get to know about things in or associated with their own group. (Not a criticism, just an observation.)

Anonymous said...

Lay people can see what others don't. Ordained people do not live in the real world, their world is one of like minded people. It has been my recent experience that ordained members of the Church like the idea of change but are reluctant to put it into practice when the change means they have to move into unknown territory themselves. I feel that ordained people have few problems with instigating change in congregations but huge ones if their traditional role is challenged.

Anonymous said...

Maybe people like yourself are too close to the situation and too easily get bogged down in the logistics/funding/practical implications of change in the future church? Standing at a distance often leads to seeing a situation from a different perspective and with a clearer vision. Just as, when viewing a great work of art, you understand more of the artist's vision when you stand back and see the overall effect rather than when you stand too close and can focus only on a tiny area.

Melissa said...

I was at High Leigh and I think it might be because at this sort of conference you get to see the wide variety of things that people are involved in and hear the success stories of projects that challenge the ways we traditionally see church.

I thought this conference was particularly optimistic, and I find it very helpful to be amongst people who are experiencing successes in their work, as I truly believe that the Methodist Church has something to offer the world.

I've now been a Layworker all my adult working life (nearly 7 years) and the longer I stay in Lay Ministry, the more I question the call I feel to go on to ordained ministry because often Lay Workers are much freere to do the work Ministers felt called to do but never have time for! Perhaps thats where the optimism comes from?

Melissa, South East London