The Future Shape of Ministry – Ministry Roles within a Minster Community

One of the key elements to the Minster Community framework is the way in which ministry is shaped across the diocese. This will be a change to our current way of working as we move to  ministry provision being both locally rooted and more widely shared across a Minster Community and gathered as a ministry team. How this looks in reality will be different in every Minster Community. As worshipping communities go through their formation process they will discern how this works in their context by understanding their current ministry provision more fully and by thinking about how things could change as they work together in the future in the light of their joint mission.  Vocational conversations will take place with current leaders and minsters, alongside growing new vocations within our worshipping communities. This is not a simple task, and will require prayer, wisdom and grace.

Every church will have a named minister 

One of the commitments in the Minster Community framework is that every Worshipping Community/Church Community will have a named minister. This ministry will be fulfilled in different ways and by different people in each community. It could be taken on by an individual or by a small group within the church. Part of Phase 2 and 3 of the formation process is the discernment of who may be called to these roles. Two examples of how this may work can be found below:

Focal Minister

A Focal Minister offers spiritual leadership in parishes. This is grass-roots, local leadership, offered by those already embedded in their churches and communities.

They will lead across worship, pastoral care, discipleship and community engagement, and develop the sharing of leadership with others by enabling the ministry of all and connecting the church with the community.

This role will look different in every Minster Community depending on the gifts and personal capacity of the individual and the needs of the church and community. A Focal Minister could be an existing licensed minister, lay or ordained, but may be anyone in the church who is growing into this role. As the role is primarily about spiritual leadership, the Focal Minister will have a level of spiritual maturity and be committed to deepening their own discipleship.

Focal Ministers are primarily identified and nominated by the PCC in consultation with the Oversight Minister and a discernment process will then take place. They will be part of and supported by the Minster Community Ministry Team. A Focal Minister’s ministry plan will be agreed in consultation with the individual, the PCC, and a supervisor nominated by the Minster Community Team, and reviewed regularly. Training will be organised based on the experience and needs of the individual. Find out more about Focal Ministry here.

Designated Community Liaison (in communities where no Focal Minister is identified)

Those who live and work in a community need to know how to contact their local church and who is the local representative of the church. In some churches, it will be the churchwardens who fulfil this role, being known within the village or area as the “go to person” for any matters relating to the church. In other places, there may be someone else who could be the Designated Community Liaison.

The role will be highly specific to local need, but could include:
- Acting as key-holder
- Key local contact person for the community
- Sign-posting community members to the relevant person in the Minister Community for pastoral care, occasional offices etc.
- Active involvement in community life and the conduit of information

They may lead acts of worship if they wish to, and with some support and training The Oversight Minister will be responsible for ensuring a process of discernment, safer recruitment, authorisation and on-going support and oversight for Community Liaison roles. The Designated Community Liaison will regularly attend worship and community events in that place and will liaise directly with the Oversight Minister, or a designated member of the Minster Community Ministry Team to ensure follow up of all contacts, enquiries, requests and concerns.

Lay Ministry is key

The Minster Community framework is designed to promote and enable lay vocations. Many Lay Ministers are currently working across our diocese in a variety of roles and settings. Lay Ministers may work across whole Minster Communities, or have a particular focused area or work – they will always be part of the Minster Community ministry team.  As the diocese transitions into Minster Communities there are different ways in which our lay ministers will be licensed/ authorised:

Locally Authorised Minister

The vocation to live out our faith in the whole of life is the calling of all Christians. A way in which we can do this more formally, without extensive training or ordination, is by becoming a Locally Authorised Minister. Locally Authorised Ministers will offer ministry in a range of specific areas of mission and ministry, such as pastoral visitor or pioneer, a children and youth volunteer, or worship leader. All these lay roles are recognised, discerned, equipped, celebrated, and authorised locally. As gifts are identified in the church it is the responsibility of the PCC or equivalent body to discern the suitability of a person to be authorised as a Locally Authorised Minister and ensure safer recruitment processes have been applied. The Locally authorised Minister is accountable to, and supported by, the local Church.

Associate Minister

An Associate Minister is a licensed lay person who is called to a role of leadership in their local church or lead an area of ministry across a wider area. They are responsible for leading ministry and developing gifts in others.

Areas of ministry that the AM might cover could include:
- Leading worship and or preaching
- Encouraging and developing vocations
- Leading on church mission including community-based projects, church plants, fresh expressions and youth and children work
- Deepening discipleship and small group development
- Developing a pastoral team and prayer ministry

Those who feel called, or are encouraged by others, towards Associate Ministry will explore their vocation in partnership with their incumbent and PCC or appropriate body and, following the Diocesan Discernment Process, will work with the Minster Community Ministry Team to form a ministry plan. If discerned to Associate Minister, they will complete two years of training - the first year focused on ministerial formation and church leadership, the second year on specific skills relating to their individual ministerial setting. On successful completion of their training, they will be licensed by the diocesan bishop as Associate Minister to their benefice or ministry setting. The Associate Minister holds a Bishops License, and is transferrable nationally.

The ‘Four Minster Community Ministry Roles’

One of the aspects of the framework that has been communicated is the four ministry roles all Minster Communities are designed to have: Oversight Minister, Growing Faith Minister, Operations Lead and Missional Lead. These roles will be fulfilled differently in every Minster Community, depending on their individual discernment throughout the formation process and their available resources. The roles could be stipendiary clergy roles, paid lay roles, or self-supporting roles filled by ordained or lay people. *The Oversight Minister must be ordained based on the framework agreed by Diocesan Synod. 
More details on these four roles can be found below: 

Oversight Minister

An Oversight Minister (OM) is an experienced, ordained leader who, along with the bishops, oversees the mission and ministry of the churches and worshipping communities in a Minster Community (MC). They will be commissioned across the MC as a whole and will be licensed to and rooted within one or more parishes within the MC. The OM collaborates with others to see that the MC is a partnership that shares ideas, ministry and workload. By enabling the ministry team, they will also ensure the MC offers traditionally appropriate worship, sacramental, pastoral and teaching provision across all its churches, fresh expressions and schools, thus encouraging growth in depth of discipleship, numbers of disciples, and loving service of the world. Click here to download a more detailed description of this role.

Growing Faith Minister (lay or ordained)

A Growing Faith Minister is an experienced lay or ordained leader who, along with the Minster Community Ministry Team, works to enable meaningful connections between churches, schools and households so that children, young people and adults encounter God and grow in their Everyday Faith. They will promote a model of working with children and young people, resource intergenerational learning and weave Growing Faith into the fabric of church life through training, resources and support, enabling all across a Minster Community. Click here to download a more detailed description of this role.

Operations Lead (lay or ordained)

The role is based on the premise that good operations management releases ministry leaders into the role that God has called them to. The Operations Lead should therefore be responsible for all areas of operations, including mission and discipleship. “What do we need to fulfil our mission.

Operations Lead holds the big picture and coordinates across the Minster Community, managing resources and holding contact details that could facilitate ease of operations. Mission and Ministry works better if it is organised well. The key difference between an administrator and an operations manager is leadership: the latter has a position of leadership and is empowered to develop strategy together with the senior leader and make decisions on how to implement that strategy under the governance of the PCCs/JCC. The administrator normally carries out clerical roles within an office setting but is reliant on a regular to-do list and tasks allocated from the senior leader.

If ordained, the person will be licensed to, and rooted within a parish.

Mission Enabler (lay or ordained)

A Mission Enabler is an experienced lay or ordained leader that enables the mission of the Minster Community with particular emphasis on the outward focused mission, discerned as a priority within the MC formation process.

Some examples of this could be:
- A MC could see an opportunity within an area of new build houses and therefore appoint someone with church planting expertise.
- A MC may identify its shared rural context and therefore seek to appoint someone with rural ministry experience.
- A MC may discern a call to form and develop small, new communities and therefore look to appoint a pioneer.
- A MC could discern a particular call in terms of loving service of the world and therefore seek to appoint someone with community work experience.

If ordained, the person will be licensed to, and rooted within a parish.

First published on: 15th May 2024
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