1960s: Shared Ministry

Ideas about 'shared ministry' have evolved over the years, but Parish & People believes that they still have a long way to go.

An ordinand in the 1960s was heard to say loudly, “I never want to be the Vicar of a parish on my own. I always want to work in a Team.” He retired recently as a bishop!

‘Team Ministry’ was a revolutionary idea in its day, challenging the notion of the incumbent as autocrat. Team Ministries were created in most dioceses, often in new towns or where pastoral ministry was difficult. Peter Croft promoted Teams strongly on behalf of Parish & People.

Many Teams have thrived. Many others have been dissolved. Even today, clergy are not trained to work together.

The major flaw with Team Ministry is that it remains too clerical. So 'team ministry' evolved into what has been variously called 'collaborative ministry' or 'shared ministry'. Local Ministry Schemes were established in many dioceses - but in practice how far do they take us beyond having teams of lay people assisting their clergy by doing things that have traditionally been regarded as 'the Vicar's job'?

  • Parish and People has been campaigning for years for a genuinely collaborative or even ‘communal’ ministry – ordained and lay together - not the clericalisation of the laity.

  • The formal structures associated with Team Ministry and even Local Ministry Schemes make it hard to develop a thoroughly communal ministry that reflects the truth that all of us were called to ministry at our Baptism. The mistake is to assume that ministry is only possible - or can only be trusted - when it is formally authorised in the name of the institutional Church.

  • Is it time we took notice of how lay people, on their own and together, are already playing their part in the ministry of the whole people of God? What part does our congregational life and the ministry of the ordained then play in sustaining, enriching and unifying what is going on through these 'ministering communities' where God is already at work?

How Parish & People is still at work:

Parish & People wants to be part of a Church that is