There are all sorts of reasons why people need to pause, take time out to think and re-assess (the past, present or future – usually the connection between all three). For Christian’s that process involves holding ourselves before God, and often working with a guide or spiritual director of some sort so that we look at what we’re considering through the clearest lens possible.
I am now meeting monthly with a spiritual director or guide, who is both challenging and encouraging of my journey in ministry. This has been immensely valuable especially a ministry helping to support my church through a period of vacancy. I am fortunate to also count her a friend – this week when we met, I appeared to receive spiritual direction in a ‘swap’ for a little light furniture moving and horticultural encouragement 🙂
Churches need these sorts of times too. I’m not suggesting they need to get outside help for their furniture and horticultural decisions; I believe that is what a Diocesan Advisory Committee is for?! What I am saying is that it is very valuable to take time to review and re-evaluate the focus of our church activities and how they are carried out.
In St. Peter’s we started this process in early 2010 working with Laurence Gamlen focusing on our “values”, which because of his work with us I remember as being the things that drive our behaviours, the way we do whatever it is we do as a church. I blogged rather a lot about it last year, and you can track back through our experiences here.
My own view is that the work is only partially complete, and needs to be re-visited once our new vicar has their ‘feet under the table’ so that our values are even more clearly defined, and much more firmly part of natural behaviour as individuals and as a church, but that isn’t for me to decide, and I guess God’s got a plan!
The ‘values’ work with Laurence was helped by the mission agency he worked for, but it seems that in these times of austerity, even mission agencies are cutting back, and whilst remaining a part-time parish priest, Laurence is now ‘going it alone’ as a ministry coach and consultant from his new website – intermissio.
If you’re in ministry and think you, or your church, could do with pressing the pause button, I would thoroughly recommend Laurence to work with. He is one of life’s encourager’s, insightful, firm and gentle (yes, all at the same time!) With great good humour and open to the Holy Spirit at work, Laurence will help you to dig deep within yourself/your church to find what it is that God is really seeking to do within and through you, so that you come to a place that is re-invigourated and re-inspired to carry out God’s work… perhaps you may even find a whole new ministry lying in wait.
I was meant to just act as ‘secretary’ to our little church group that worked with Laurence… what I hope he knows is that experience has fed some significant changes in the way I view ministry, and what I think God is calling me to do! I can’t recommend him enough and wish him God’s blessing in his own new adventure in ministry.