We started a discussion here about how we talk about the professions and ‘full time vocational ministry’. It seems that a great deal of the motivation behind the push for people to go into full time vocational ministry is that we are living in the last days. This is the age of proclamation, so that ought to be our priority.
My question is one of strategy. Because my observation of full time vocational ministry is that it’s a heck of a lot of talking to Christians and not much evangelism. Lots of it is not even preparing others to do evangelism! It’s part administration, part fixing up people’s doctrine, and a lot of pastoral care. Those are all good things, but if they involve gospel proclamation, often it’s to people who are already Christians. You can feel kind of urgent and last days-y about it, without it being a very effective strategy!
I’m not sure the case is that we need more people in full time vocational ministry. My suspicion is that those of us who are already there ought to better equip Average Joanne to be a better witness in her workplace, since there are likely to be stacks more unbelievers there than in a church!
Categories: Uncategorized Written by Tamie
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.
Yep, but — we need committed pastors and teachers of the word as the most direct need in many places, to lead/grow/care for the Xn communities, which then do much of the evangelism.
Agreed Sam. I’d love to see that become part of the way we talk about FTVM. I think I often hear people encouraged to go into FTVM because of the need for evangelism. More accurate would be talking about the need to train OTHERS to do evangelism!
Yeah, let’s make the challenge for vocational ministry without simultaneously implying that that’s where all the action is!
That’s the way I’m used to hearing it put (in my Sydney/MTS circles) so maybe we’re on the same page!
I agree with everything in this post up to:
“I’m not sure the case is that we need more people in full time vocational ministry.”
Because I’m sure it is the case.
I’m a big fan of the priesthood of all believers – but I’m also a big fan of the body using its resources to allow people to do ministry vocationally as much as possible, through as much generosity as possible, while also doing mission wherever they are.
There are huge shortages in full time vocational ministry in churches that I’m connected to, where there are real gaps where opportunities to be training and equipping people.
The problem is we need more Christians in every capacity – including full time ministry – who are committed to mission, not just partaking of the benefits of ministry…
I’ve never been part of a church that focuses as much on training as the one I’m part of now – and yet, training is a self fulfilling snowball. To mix a metaphor. The more you emphasise training and equipping people to do mission where they are, the more people you will hopefully have to train and equip. Sooner or later people are going to have to sacrificially step outside their career to do that.
That’s certainly how I felt. I loved my job. I loved my colleagues. I loved every thing about the work I was doing – but I love the church more, and want to see it flourish (I realise that’s not a dichotomy) – and I made the call that my time was better served doing that with most of it.
I do think, using the body analogy, that gifting has to play a part of it – the problem I have with the NTE sales pitch is that it assumes every university student, because they are intelligent, is “gifted” – we end up forcing a lot of fingers to be ribs.
I guess if it’s a question of proportion, vocational ministers per capita, rather than number of bodies being churned through the cookie cutter of ministry training, then I’d agree with that sentence anyway.
Yeah, the per capita thing is a good way of putting it Nathan.
I wasn’t trying to push people away from FT ministry (hey, I’m in FT ministry – I obviously think it’s important!) so much as raise the profile of Christian in every capacity as you say.