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Archbishop of Canterbury on Fresh Expressions and clergy

Archbishop of Canterbury on Fresh Expressions and clergy

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams sends a video greeting to the Vital Church Planting Conference on September 5.


At around 2:00, Williams remarks upon what the realities embraced by the Fresh Expressions initiative will have to say about the next generations of clergy and their formation:

…rethinking a bit of what we expect of ordained ministry. Because for these new styles of church life to flourish, we need something of a new style of ordained ministry. We need people with pioneering skills, with entrepreneurial skills, people perhaps a little bit more willing to take risks than some traditional clergy might have been in the past.

He’s naming an obvious new reality … or perhaps something that’s been the case for a while, but only a few have been willing to truly embrace it.

Anyway, it begs at least four questions.

1. Who is this “pastorpreneur”? (This is a term that’s been in the air for years, by the way, but hasn’t been applied with as much force to smaller congregations.)

2. What additional skills or training must he or she possess in order to help the church be effective?

3. What must happen within church for there to be enough trust between priest and congregation to allow such a role to come forth?

4. Under this schema, what in the world happens to “preach, teach, and administer the sacraments”?

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Susan Snook

As a church planter (or, I suppose, a “pastorpreneur”), I have to say I am puzzled by your fourth question. What happens to “preach, teach, and administer the sacraments?” Well, that is the core of ordained ministry. Why would it be different for a missional leader? As for the other three questions, I think who the “pastorpreneur” is depends on the social/economic/ethnic context. The leader should be someone comfortable within the context of her/his mission area, gifted with natural leadership skills, and experienced in risk-taking leadership in some area (preferably non-church, in my opinion). Such a leader will be able to guide the congregation in understanding God’s vision for it, and gain their trust and following.

Susan B. Snook

Tom Sramek Jr

Two other questions might be: Where is the capital coming from for these entrepreneurial ventures (see above), and are Commissions on Ministry still screening out candidates for ordination who have “authority issues” and don’t fit the old mold?

Seems like the most cutting edge, risk-taking clergy are often either strangled at birth or forced to make a choice between feeding their families or planting or re-planting a church. In many ways, it is easier to start a company (funding, support, etc…) than it is to plant a church.

jmwhite1

There are already lots of people with the skills, and several groups are working to harness those skills to teach a new generation, suc as the people behind Episcopal Village and the various diocese doing Fresh Expressions work; there’s even a nascent seminary network, the Episcopal Evangelism Network, that’s working to put potential pastorpreneurs in seminary in touch with experienced pastropeneurs.

What we’re really talking about here is evangelism. It’s not mysterious or outside of our experience, its just outside our comfort zone. We need to reimagine ourselves, again, as a missionary society that seeks to share God’s good news with a fearful world.

None of this is to suggest that we need to do away with learned clergy or lower our expectations of qualification. But, and here’s the big one, we need to stop waiting people to self-identify as being called to ordained ministry and start recruiting (aka calling)people who we (the church, the body of Christ)think have the gifts needed.

We also need to be real about what all this costs and figure out how to divert our resources where they matter. (I kind of like Bp Saul’s idea, btw) We need a kind of venture capital fund for patorpreneurs, and be willing to accept the occassional failure as well.

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