Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Local Preaching - A sacred cow?

Now here's an interesting thought which I came across on 'Big Circumstance's' blog and made by Will AKA Ramblings from Red Rose.
I have to say that I do have some sympathy with what he says in his comment as a whole where he indicates that friends of his in the United Methodist Church are seeing growth and it would seem they attribute this to the fact that there is one minister to one church. He says this makes it easier to follow themes in preaching and ensure that important things are brought before congregations and kept in their minds.
In a previous church I belonged to the vast bulk of preaching at communion services was done by either the pastor or myself and while we often preached on alternate Sundays we would also preach for a number of weeks at a time and have a theme/topic for those periods. If I preached the pastor led and vice versa with the evening gospel services having mainly visiting preachers and either the pastor or myself leading the worship - preachers only had to preach.
Within the comments Will makes he refers to the sacred cow of British Methodism which in his opinion is local preachers ( I am sure some of us could come up with others). I find this quite interesting given that in our circuit of ten churches on most Sunday two thirds of services are taken by local preachers and I realise in other circuits this figure may be even higher.Surely the sacred cow might be deemed to be a very necessary part of British Methodism.
Perhaps there is some mileage in the thoughts behind this process - Will would seem to be suggesting a system similar to the UMC which I am not sure would be workable in Britain but how about local pastors (voluntary) as well as ministers - perhaps ministers could focus on one church for say a quarter with local pastors looking after the other churches that particular minister is responsible for - and then move on to another church in the circuit for a quarter and so on. Who knows it might revolutionise British Methodism!!


PamBG said...

I go back and forth on this issue. I worry that congregations with one (or more) ministers become fixated on that minister and he or she becomes the focus of church-life. I see this in our big churches and in the Anglican system where nothing but 'The Vicar' will do.

On the other hand, it's an attractive suggestion as a minister because I feel fairly certain that I could probably do more effective work if I were only focussing on one church.

Methodist Preacher said...

Our church grew in the period that we had "thematic preaching". This invloved a lot of co-ordination but it worked. For example we had a series on Isiah, the seven letters from Revelation (wow that was brilliant!) and a series based on the hymn "Take My Life".

It meant Minister and local preachers working together. However several Ministers have refused point blank to work in this way, feeling, I suspect that it undermines their own sense of importance.

I think the idea of the unpaid pastor is one that needs to be explored. If I thought there could be such an opportunity I think I would look at early retirement.