Are you called to be a Presbyter?
Being a Methodist Presbyter is not just a job. It’s a lifetime commitment to a special calling. It can be demanding and challenging, and also hugely exciting and rewarding. Could this be the path that God wants you to take?
What is a Presbyter?
There are two types of ordained minister in the Methodist Church - Presbyters and Deacons. As a Presbyter, you would play a key role in coordinating and equipping the people of God in their discipleship, worship and mission. You would be released from everyday employment to do the work of God and share in God’s mission. In challenging times for the Church, you would play a vital part in helping people develop new vision and strategy. You would have the privilege of stepping into people’s lives in their most joyful and most vulnerable moments. You would help people sense God’s powerful and life-giving presence, and help them discover God’s wonder and mystery.
Methodist Presbyters are ministers of the Word and Sacraments in the universal Church. Through ordination and reception into full connexion they are authorized by the Methodist Conference to be public representatives of the Church.
The ministry of presbyters can be summarised as leadership in mission focused in a ministry of word (interpreting the Scriptures and speaking about God, both to followers of Jesus and the wider world); sacrament (celebrating God’s presence everywhere and presiding at baptisms and Holy Communion); and pastoral responsibility (leading, loving and caring for God’s people).
Some presbyters have a specific focus at various points in their ministry. For example, they may be involved in various forms of chaplaincy or may become pioneer ministers. This will depend on their gifts and graces and the Church’s missional needs.
We are not ordaining you to be a caring person; you are already called to that. We are not ordaining you to serve the Church in committees, activities, organisation; that is already implied in your membership. We are not ordaining you to become involved in social issues, ecology, race, politics, revolution, for that is laid upon every Christian. We are ordaining you to something smaller and less spectacular: to read and interpret those sacred stories of our community, so that they speak a word to people today; to remember and practice those rituals and rites of meaning that in their poetry address human beings at the level where change operates; to foster in community through word and sacrament that encounter with truth which will set men and women free to minister as the body of Christ.From the Methodist Church in Singapore, quoted in Donald Hilton (1991) Liturgy of Life, Redhill, NCEC, 153).
- In company with others
Ministers lead God’s people in mission, in collaboration with others. Led by God’s Spirit, they help today’s church catch a vision of what the church of the future should be like.
Your own special gifts and skills are vital, though they are exercised in the context of the wider Connexion. When ministers are stationed they are sent to particular situations to bring the goals, insights and resources of the wider church to bear on them, as well as to exercise their particular gifts and skills.
Ministers work within the Church’s structures and discipline and are representatives of the whole Connexion. Presbyters and Deacons are accountable for the ways in which they exercise ministry. They are expected to behave ‘with integrity, competence and according to the best standards of practice’ towards those to whom they minister What is a Presbyter? (Conference Report 2002, 12). A draft ministerial Code of Conduct has been circulated by Conference for wider consultation (by the end of November 2018).
- Some books about ministry
Richard Burridge (2017) Four Ministries, One Jesus: exploring your vocation with the four gospels, London: SPCK
Jim Cotter (1992) Yes…Minister? Sheffield: Cairns
Steven Croft (2008) Ministry in Three Dimensions, London: Darton Longman & Todd
Philip Luscombe and Esther Shreeve (2002) What is a Minister? Peterborough: Epworth Press
Katy Magdalene Price (2015) I think it’s God calling, Abingdon: Bible Reading Fellowship
Sam Wells (2017) Incarnational Ministry: Being with the church , London: Canterbury Press