OSJ Ministry

Participants, not passengers:

As a Christian, you should be being used.  The church is meant for participants not passengers - that is what busses are for.  

Everyone has some kind of ministry to offer, without which the church and the community it serves will be made less and less complete.  Also, there are no such things as 'great ministries' or 'lesser ministries', they are all equally necessary and carry the same weight.

For the most part Christian ministry will be 'in passing', almost unconsciously dealing with those things that are needful on a day to day basis, and that is something that everyone can be involved with without any formal training or qualification.  

These things will often appear quite ordinary and routine but are actually quite necessary, and it is real ministry without which the church would come to a grinding standstill.  There is often no 'official' organisation, it mostly seems to organise itself and just happens.  It often brings some kind of strange order where there has previously been chaos, and any attempts to bring it under formal control or to 'improve' it usually causes upsets and makes things a lot less effective.

This, if you have to give it a name, is the church's 'ministry support team' in action, the essential group that 'gets on and does' because it has both faith and love, and an instinctive sense of communal purpose and direction.

OSJ (UK) has adopted this as its membership model simply because it works.

Anyone who joins OSJ (UK) automatically is a member of the Order's Ministry Support Team (MST) and this is open to all Christians, even if they are also members of other Christian communities.  

OSJ (UK) MST members are the people that enable 24/7 ministry and without whom the work of the Christian community would quickly stop.  MST members are the life blood of the Order, (especially when it comes to prayer), and are the hands, feet, heart and voice of God on the front lines of daily life.  

It would be quite wrong to underestimate or underappreciate this work they do.  Without it there would be no Order.

There are occasions however where some official or formal authentication is required regarding some forms of ministry.

In the early church this was often demonstrated or confirmed by the laying on of hands and commissioning.  

It didn't mean that these people were super-Christians, in fact they were often quite ordinary and flawed, they were just set aside for particular (and often difficult) roles.

That model continues in many churches today.  OSJ (UK) uses this model too.

OSJ (UK)'s Ministry Team is made up of those whose work is perhaps a little more sensitive and comes under safeguarding rules.  These people are no different to anyone else in the OSJ (UK) community and are not to be thought of as being special or privileged or flawless or more gifted.

The most obvious differences will be that members of the Ministry Team require police/CRB checks and come under much closer supervision and direction by the Order's bishops and the Order's Executive Council.  (Added to that and not generally seen, the application process is highly detailed and complex, requires full disclosure, several interviews, supporting documentation and references, and a probationary period.)  OSJ (UK) has a legal obligation to ensure effective safeguarding.

In practice, all our priests/ministers/pastors have to be members of the Ministry Team to comply with safeguarding requirements but being a part of the Ministry Team isn't just restricted to clergy.  Non-ordained members with particular giftings such as community chaplains, liturgists, eucharistic ministers, etc., are also able to be part of the Ministry Team.  It also includes those undergoing training, those either on the Deacon's course or heading for the priesthood.

There is a common misconception that being called to ordination is the ultimate recognition of one's faith.  Well for the record, it isn't.  It's a complete myth.

Let me assure you that without exception everyone is called to their own special form of ministry by God, and that 'ordination' is just one of many forms of calling - all equally valuable, necessary and just as important.  There are elements to be found in all forms of ministry that reflect the communal priesthood of all church members.  Not only that but there is no necessity to be 'ordained' in regard to most Christian ministry, or to be 'authorised' in some way.  Ministry is and should always be a simple and natural response of faith and love.  It is definitely not about personal power, prestige, control, authority or titles.

There is nothing 'magical' about being ordained - it confirms what already exists rather than it 'giving power to'.  In truth, there isn't great deal more you can do once ordained that you couldn't already do before, although there seems to be a lot more paperwork involved.  Those who are ordained will tell you it is rarely what they thought it would be.  The clerical collar is nothing more than an invitation to a conversation about life and faith and holds no power in itself, and nor should it.  It is no guarantee of 'ministry' either.  If you didn't have ministry before being ordained, wearing a clerical collar generally won't make things any different.  

Ministry is all around us and we all have something to give and receive.  Ministry is for all, by all, and in God alone.

Regardless of rank, title, qualification or position, all members of OSJ (UK) carry equal status (so don't expect any special treatment if you happen to be ordained).  All OSJ (UK) members have their own God given mix of gifts, talents and skills, all are called to serve God and the Christian community in some way, and are all equally needed.   

Membership is all about serving Christ and community, not servicing your own needs or ego.