Ministering Communities

Where God is already at work

Parish & People is gathering evidence of 'ministering communities' - as a pointer to what is meant by 'communal ministry' - since only when we understand where God is already at work will we be able to work out how best the rest of us, ordained and lay, can join in.

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‘Ministering Communities’ take many forms – for example:

  • Very small rural congregations when they are some distance from where their incumbent lives
  • well-structured, high-profile projects with charitable status
  • informal communities exploring distinct spiritual traditions (e.g. Taize, Iona, etc) that sustain the individual ministries of their members
  • ‘Base Ecclesial Communities’ drawing inspiration from the favellas of South America
  • ‘Fresh Expressions of Church’ re-discovering the monastic tradition

Getting on with the Job

  • Individual participants in ‘Ministering Communities’ (which are ipso facto witnessing communities) will also, with few exceptions, be found in church congregations – but rarely all in the same congregation.
  • Congregations, however, unless they are very small and remote, probably cannot be turned into Ministering Communities. This is because Ministering Communities need to be small enough to enable participants to give and receive mutual support in their clearly focused common task.
  • Ministering communities exist ‘under the radar’ of institutional churches. They are not tied to denominations. In the 1990s at a County Ecumenical Officers’ conference they were identified as a form of ‘hidden ecumenism’.
  • But their ecumenical character is only an incidental feature. The reality is that, for generations, lay people have been finding ways of getting on with the job together to serve God's Kingdom and to share God's love - and because church leaders didn't organise it, they didn't notice!

Read some stories of Ministering Communities