Ministry in the Church
In popular perception, ministry is understood almost exclusively in terms of ordained ministry. Ministry is what the ‘vicar’ does. Too easily is it assumed that the good, devout, earnest Christian layman can only serve God and the Church by being ordained.
The problem with this popular view is that it does not do justice to the variety of forms of ministry that exist in the Church today. People forget that every baptized person is in, and of, the Church already and has already rights, duties and privileges, as a member of Christ. Certainly, the Church needs laymen and laywomen who exercise a ministry of the Gospel. Ministry is a term that should be used to describe the service that all Christians without exception are called to offer to God. The New Testament clearly emphasises this call, for example, in passages such as: Rom. 12: 4-7; I Cor. 12: 4-7; and I Peter 4: 10-11.
In one sense all ministry is ‘lay’ ministry, in that it is carried out by those who are members of the laos, the people of God. However, the Church distinguishes between, ministry undertaken by those members of the laos who are ordained and ministry undertaken by those who are not.
The Traditional Anglican Church in Britain has retained the three fold clerical orders of the ancient Church, namely: bishops, priests and deacons. Lay ministry in the Church, such as that of the ministry of readers or the ministry of accredited lay workers, is authorized by Canon and complements the Ministry of the clergy, in the service of God and the Church.
“As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace”
(I Peter 4: 10
The Rev’d. Canon Geoffrey E. Andow, BEd. (Hons):
Principal Examining Chaplain.