Valuing Everyone's Ministry

Church leaders have for many years spoken approvingly of:

  • "The Ministry of the Whole People of God"

  • "All Christians baptised for ministry"

 Yet in practice only authorised or ordained ministry seems to count for anything. Is this just a problem for the Church of England?

PARISH & PEOPLE believes that two things are urgently needed:

  1. Theological education and reflection(including so-called 'training for ministry') that is built not on the needs of the institutional church but on a careful attention to God's world and God's purposes within it
  2. A public voice for the vast majority of Christ's disciples exercising their ministry as a practical expression of their discipleship day by day in God's world, and not just 'on behalf of' the institutional church or serving the church's agenda.

An underlying problem:

It's hard to talk about 'ministry' in a non-institutionalised way.

  • "Team Ministry"                      - too clerical?
  • "Local Ministry (Schemes)"   - too bureaucratic?
  • "Collaborative Ministry"         - too much open to abuse?

All three are about how lay people collaborate with the incumbent, and not the other way round! Three other suggestions have their own problems!

  • "Teach each a ministry"          - too individualistic and too churchy?
  • "Total Ministry"                        - has overtones of 'Big Brother'?
  • "All-in Ministry"                        - sound like a wrestling match?

Parish & People has recently tried four other approaches:

1 'Communal Ministry'

Jimmy Hamilton-Brown's booklet 'Communal Ministry' (Autumn 2011) summarises many of the issues that continue to frustrate the development of a genuinely local ministry within the Church of England.

      Download 'Communal Ministry' here    

2 'Ministering Communities'

Parish & People has been 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.

 Download stories of ministering communities here 

3 Searching for 'Spiritual Wells'

Our recent publication, 'Thirsty for God', addresses the issue of where God is already at work by exploring where people - inside and outside the Churches - find their Spiritual wells. In doing so, it discovers a new dynamic in the relationship between the lay and the ordained and a new role for the congregation.

      Download 'Thirsty for God' here    

4 A Manifesto for taking Lay Ministry Seriously

Over the next two or three years, the Church of England's Ministry Division is committed to 're-imagining ministry' - yet constitutionally their remit leads them to ignore any ministry undertaken by lay people that is not in some way authorised by the Church. So in 2012 Parish & People launched its 'Manifesto for taking Lay Ministry seriously', which challenges any re-imagining of ministry that does not start from the basic God-given reality that ministry is already being undertaken by the whole people of God.

     Download our Manifesto here         

Our Manifesto has prompted a useful Debate:

Comments and reactions to the Manifesto are being received all the time. Make sure you have your say. Email:

Additional resources to help you work with the Manifesto in your local church:

Parish & People believes a popular movement is needed to press the case for a genuinely total ministry shaping the life and structures of Christ's Church - recognising that the frontline of the Church's mission and ministry is where Christians bear witness of the Gospel in their daily lives.

Sign up to our Charter and make sure Synod members and Church leaders know you give it your support.

NB You can print the Charter on both sides of a sheet of A4 and cut the sheet in half
to produce an A5 flyer. Please circulate it far and wide!