Tuesday, June 05, 2007
A Methodist minister often feels like a neurotic octopus. The expectations on minister’s are often ludicrous and so varied you might be disappointed if your local minister did not sing opera. The impression that the minister is the ‘full-time’ and professional priest gives lay folk the divine opportunity to delegate all tasks seemingly church related onto his or her shoulders. The burnt out minister comes as a shock to congregants who expected a better example of divine representation. Lets be frank, how can you possibly expect a minister to spend one hour on every minute of his sermon as they should do, spend at least one to two hours of prayer each day, put together an order of service that shows musical precision and technological skills that provides creative prayers, and liturgies on glossy projector screens, be a ‘spiritual psychologist’ who has in-depth knowledge of the human soul and has counseling abilities that cover not just one area of expertise but areas such as, before marriage counseling, after marriage counseling, divorce counseling, crisis counseling, grief counseling, family counseling and then he or she is expected to visit every member on a regular basis on a home visitation programme, then there is the expectation that this minister has oodles of time to read theological tomes and have ample time to study their bibles, the next expectation is to insist that your minister is a ‘church growth’ specialist, they must know the principles of growing church’s and how to mobilize an entire congregation into action, the mission of the church is their responsibility too, the lost souls who need to be saved, the social development projects that need to be started, the justice issues that need to be addressed, and then the minister should be good with the elderly and be able to address the teenagers on their level. This is not to mention, being chair of the board, honorary chair of the Woman’s Auxiliary, a member on each committee, being involved in circuit and/or district matters, ecumenical ties with other local churches, etc, etc. The dream church can only be realized when the minister is doing 3 or five of these and the congregation is doing the rest. The greatest challenge is for the congregation to appreciate the work done by lay folk and see themselves as ministers of the Gospel in their own right.