Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Explaining Word & Sacrament Ministry

The topic of Word and Sacrament ministry and what it means has come up directly and indirectly during my time at my new congregation (which I have decided to term Elijah in Egypt). My predecessor was particularly skilled at empowering the laity and at delegating responsibilities for the ministries of the congregation. While this has created a cadre of talented and responsible leaders, it has also caused me (and Elijah!) to reckon with the questions about the pastor's role.

I'm curious to know how you, my dear readers, would explain the call to Word & Sacrament ministry. Many members and leaders in my congregation are not particularly aware of this concept (which, I know, may seem puzzling to other pastors...welcome to my eclectic and intriguing congregation!). I have attempted to explain it but feel like I'm stuck a bit.

How would you explain the call to ordained ministry? The call to Word and Sacrament?

How would you answer the following questions/lines of feedback? I have my own ideas and replies but I don't want to cloud your feedback. Let me know your initial thoughts and we'll go from there...
  • But what about the "priesthood of all believers"? Aren't we all called?
  • Doesn't this create a hierarchy? Didn't Luther work to eliminate papal authority, etc? [side note: we're big into collaboration in Elijah]
  • It's our congregation...don't we get to decide ____________ (fill in the blank)?
As you answer, please keep in mind that my congregation is full of amazing, wonderful people. I'm not critiquing them in the least. I'm simply facing a situation where there's just not much buy in or understanding of Word and Sac. Help!

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