Models of ministry part 2: watchman, weaver, witness

10 May 2017

Rowan Williams identified three other models, three metaphors for the ordained.  For him a minister may be a watchman, a weaver or a witness.

A watchman is one who stands on the city wall, looking out for those who are approaching. Those approaching may be friend or foe, ally or enemy, come in need or come to attack. The job of the watchman is to spot them and alert the community. That is a model I can live with. To keep abreast of the issues of our day. To spend time reading and watching, to note where we are being led.

A real concern for me is psychometric profiling. The way in which social media, especially Facebook, is able to identify our interests and concerns, select material to which they expose us and bend us to vote even in a particular way. This method was used extensively by the Trump campaign and it is becoming increasingly likely that it was used in the referendum last year.

It is our duty as ministers today, as it was for our predecessors, to act as a warning to those we seek to serve. It is not always a comfortable place to be, standing on a wall, looking out and passing on news of what we have seen, it can be cold, it can be lonely and it is easy for people to throw stones at us, but it has to be done.

The second model is that of weaver.

The weaver draws together different strands which in themselves are not that interesting. But the one who can take the threads and turn them into a beautiful rug is one that fulfils the call of God to serve a community.

Watchman, weaver.

The third model Rowan Williams offers us is that of witness.

How we appear to those about us sets in their imagination what it is to be a disciple of Jesus, how the Church is in this age of searching and multiple choice.

I regret that I have not always been a good witness for the church. The things I have said and done in public have not always been to the standard I would expect of a disciple. But in my frailty and vulnerability I would hope that others see a weak human being called by God and in that weakness God offers hope to them, those who are equally fragile.

Watchman, weaver, witness.


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