Models of ministry part 1: Prophet, pastor, priest

10 May 2017

At one time or another we will have explored models of ministry.

We will be familiar with the terms prophet, pastor and priest.  Each model has served the church well over millennia.  Some are called to be prophets, others pastors and some priests.

We have all known ministers who were great preachers but lousy visitors;  or those whose insufferable sermons have been tolerated because their visits were an absolute delight.  We rarely, if ever get, someone who is wonderful at all they do; I take some comfort from this fact.

Methodism has traditionally placed great stress on the preaching aspect of its presbyters. This falls into the category of the prophetic model.

It was once said that the only newspaper people would access was through the Sunday sermon. That fell away some years ago as tabloids became available.  Then it was claimed that the sermon became the only Bible some would access.

The responsibility on preachers has always weighed heavy.  Today , as always, but as never before, we are called to discern the truth amidst the fake news, the conspiracy theories, the psychometric targeting of voters through social media.

The significance of the prophetic side of ministry has never diminished, neither has the pastoral. Indeed the pastoral aspect informs the preacher, keeps the preacher alert to need, to where the issues are.

Killinger in his book ‘The Fundamentals of Christian Preaching’ wrote ‘The preacher who is pastor is a preacher indeed.’

In Methodism we have focussed on the prophetic and the pastoral, less so on priesthood.  Yet priesthood is there.

The presidency at the Eucharist is one such visible expression of the one called to be priest.  And it is also present in our relationships.

Like it or not, our ordained ministers are expected to act differently. The ordained are meant to be holy, to be devotional and to discern the will of God in a given situation.  Please never come and observe me watching an England rugby international, especially against Wales – it would shatter what little respect I have left!

We will shy away from priesthood, we will underplay it, but it is there and not always beneath the surface neither.

Prophet, pastor, priest.


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