Presbyterians Today

OCT 2018

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OCTOBER Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay Two of the responsibilities really stand out for me — "demonstrating a new quality of life within and through the church" and "reviewing and evaluating regularly the integrity of one's membership and considering ways in which one's participation … may be increased and made more meaningful." Wow! "Ministers: all members of the church" is profoundly correct terminology when we see it in the light of G-1.0304. These are responsibilities that cannot be done by professional clergy or by anyone else in the con- gregation. Ministry is both individual and corporate. And there's no passing the buck. Earlier, in G-1.0101, we read: "The triune God gives to the congregation all the gifts of the gospel necessary to being the church." And G-1.0102 states: "The polity of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) presupposes the fellowship of women, men and children united in covenant rela- tionship with one another and with God through Jesus Christ. The organization rests on the fellowship and is not designed to work without trust and love." The church fully depends on the nature of the fel- lowship among its members and on the love and trust between them. No mention of clergy or professional staff here. We all know how important our pastor is and how much we rely on our music director and Christian educa- tors and the person who answers phones and emails in the of"ce during the week. But the real ministry of the church belongs to each of us in a fundamentally personal and indispensable way. Jerry Van Marter recently served as interim director of communica- tions for the Oce of the General Assembly and is stated clerk for the Presbytery of Mid-Kentucky I n my various roles over the years — pastor, national staff member, presbytery stated clerk — I have visited many congregations for worship. A church's worship bulletin is a good window into the life of the congregation, so I always read them carefully. Not just the order of worship — one can walk into almost any Presbyterian church anywhere and feel familiar with the order of worship. I like to read all the other material in the bulletin. What can be an annoyance to regular pewsitters is the stuff that can really tell visitors a lot about your congre- gation. And I have been struck by how many Sunday bul- letins, in the staff section, list "ministers: all the members of the church." At "rst glance, I am put off by this terminology. It seems too cutesy, or manipulative, like the pastor is almost too eager to remove himself or herself from whatever imaginary pedestal is perceived to exist. It seems to proclaim an egalitarianism that may not be true, or to re˜ect a pastor overly anxious to recruit helpers. I confess the need to check that impulse and to see "minis- ters: all members of the church" for what it really is — a key to Presbyterian polity. The Book of Order states it pretty clearly in G-1.0304: "Membership in the Church of Jesus Christ is a joy and a privilege. It is also a commitment to participate in Christ's mission." In my congregation in Louisville, we are engaged in all kinds of activities we call mission: English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for immigrants, support of our local community ministry, a partnership with several churches in Guatemala, and participation in a variety of local, regional and national coalitions addressing many issues. That's what most Presbyterians think of as mission. A closer look at G-1.0304 reveals a far deeper, far more personal theology of mission. The "ministry of members" in that section lists 12 responsibilities of a faithful member, including "proclaiming the good news in word and deed," taking part in the church's life and worship, lifting one another in prayer and support, studying Scripture and issues of Christian faith, living responsibly, working for justice and peace, caring for God's creation and participating in church governance. Yes, we are all ministers in the church In Presbyterian lingo, the buck stops with you CHURCH MATTERS | Jerry Van Marter The real ministry of the church belongs to each of us in a fundamentally personal and indispensable way

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