For one of my classes I'm to write an essay on "what are the implications of 'professional ministry' for the church?" While I've not done much reading for this yet, the question in itself raises several interesting thoughts for me.
- What is professional? Is it paid, is it ordained or set apart in some way? Is is educated and trained for a role, preforming a 'ministry' in a professional, unpaid capacity. I would see readers, axillary and OLM ministers all as professionals, but none are salaried for their roles.
- What is ministry? I know, I'm maybe being a little obtuse here, but is that Word and Sacrament, Diaconal or Sunday School Superintendent?
- What's the church? Is it the broad, catholic, church or The Church of Scotland?I know this is something I'll need to define before I can even get about looking at what 'professional ministry' may look like.
I also wonder how new expressions of church are affected by 'professional ministry'. Often, as much as a minister may want to get involved in these new expressions (however they are manifested) time can be a limiting factor. It's also good for others who aren't ordained or set apart to set up and try these initiatives. But given the reformed definition of church (where the word is correctly preached and the sacraments properly administered), these new expressions of church aren't, in themselves, church. Under Kirk law, they need a minister involved in some capacity so the sacraments can be administered. Yet that minister could be an OLM doing a professional ministry, but unpaid.
I know there's a proper order thing and I acknowledge that under church law. Yet I wonder if that would occur through God, rather than what people can achieve on their own. Speaking to my latest supervisor the other week, he felt the 'good order' reformation thing, where only ordained ministers can administer the sacraments may be in order that the church is seen and maintained as being reformed. Is it a bit of protectionism on the part of ministers that only they (and not deacons, say) can administer the sacraments? I'm not saying it's wrong, I just wonder if 500 years after the reformation some things which came in then really look more priestly than we'd like to admit?
So, professionals don't have to be paid and ministry doesn't have to be full-time word and sacrament. Maybe that in itself could be a liberation for the church? Or a hindrance, depending on how you look at it.