Journey with Malcolm Herbert.
A search for encounter and enlightenment with a 'Church as we know it' Vicar
Monday, 7 June 2010
Rambles on the Railway.
Writing this having just got on a train. I followed the driver who had just brought it in as he walked up to the other end of the platform to take us to Paddington. As he did so he greeted staff members who reciprocated warmly as if they were greeting a long lost friend. A friend and warm colleague he obviously is - everyone wanted to shake the guy's hand.
My experience with the Weddings Project shows that what people 'out there' want in 'Vicars' (as all church leaders, whatever their denomination or ordination status, are called) above everything else is a warm and inclusive human being. Someone who likes people beyond the church door and enjoys being with them. I have said all this before as you know, but what has made me say it again is receiving responses from quite a number of people to my last blog. It all resonates with me. The church agenda - especially an agenda that is confused, unrealistic and multi- expectational - will simply crowd out the time a 'Vicar' needs to work on the fringe that comes with their God given role in the wider community.
A stalwart MU member of a group of rural parishes in Worcestershire remarked to me that although she wanted her Vicar to spend more time beyond the church door, she was sceptical whether other church members would welcome it. Some churches make it clear that they do not want the leaders time being spent outside the church. This can get disguised and theologised into phrases like 'developing every member ministry' or 'having a heart for pastoral ministry'. Nothing wrong with what those phrases stand for but Church leaders do need space to model and practice God's call in Jesus to hang around with the 'non - member'. Many church people have simply lost the art and are unable to connect faith even with those they live and work with. People need to be led out rather than to be cajoled into bringing people in all the time. We don't need more courses but opportunity to develop more confidence in being in God with people.The Jesus 'trick' as I call it. In many cases it is simply the weight of internal agendas and expectations often related to buildings and general 'keeping the show on the road stuff that keeps us apart.
I am waiting for the clergy job profile that says as a key value - 'prefers to spend time with non- members where they are, loves hanging out and partying with sinners, would prefer to spend Sunday in the sports centre/coffee shop than in church etc etc;'
This would really be post mixed economy church... and church that really believes in being one for the non- member.