Collecting things

Mother Ruth wrote movingly recently on the collection of decrepit hoovers that her congregation has amassed over the years. It is a subject dear to my heart.

It occurred to me this morning during the coldest Diocesan Council meeting in all of Christendom, that we collect other things like this too.

Take mission plans, for example.

  • The Purpose of Your Church
  • The ANDREW vision (in St Andrew’s diocese)
  • Mission 21
  • Journey of the Baptised

I’ve been in the church long enough now to have seen them come and seen them go. What was the one that came before The Purpose of Your Church? I cannot now remember, but I bet someone can. There was just a hint this morning at the Council of what we might do next in this diocese. It sounds quite good to me and it is interesting as it appears to suggest that there is life after Journey of the Baptised after all. However, we do collect them.

We have a similar collection of ways of thinking about ministry too.

  • Ministerial Review – discussed fully about six years ago at General Synod, I think and not yet implemented.
  • Continual Ministerial Development – now with its associated Individual Development Plans – just like living in perpetual TISEC. (Did the Pope not abolish Limbo a couple of weeks ago?)
  • Collaborative Ministry aka Local Collaborative Ministry, Whole Body Ministry, the People of God Movement, Full Body Ministry, The Ministry of All the Baptised, Total Ministry and any number of other acronyms and names.

The cold icy tendrils of Collaborative Ministry were starting to creep through the Diocesan Council this morning. The trouble with Collaborative Ministry is that it is a package which some of us in the church believe in as though it were a religion and some of us just don’t get. The presumption of the former is that the others are power crazed megalomaniacs. (The presumption of the latter is that the others are power crazed megalomaniacs too).

Notwithstanding the state of the wider Anglican Communion, the real point of schism in the Scottish Episcopal Church is over Collaborative Ministry, or whatever it is called this week. It is clear to me that several of our current bishops don’t agree with it at all and are starting to be a little bit more assertive about that fact. (It isn’t hard to see why they should be anxious – the dioceses which were early, enthusiastic adopters of all of this are now in dire straights).

The confusing thing to the bystander is probably that there is a difference between collaborative ministry and Collaborative Ministry. Working collaboratively seems to me clearly to be a good thing. However the presumptions of the Collaborative Ministry agenda go far beyond that and they are far from having been agreed by the whole church.

Perhaps a little reflective debate within the SEC Blogsphere would be interesting.