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[ all are called - some heavyweight views ]

 

In 1985, the Church of England published the report All Are Called (p51)5 in which the Common Statement contains these words:

Because all human beings are made in the image of God, they are called to become the people of God, the Church, servants and ministers and citizens of the Kingdom, a new humanity in Jesus Christ. Though we are tainted by our sinfulness, God’s wonderful grace and love offer us all this common Christian vocation.  God leaves everyone free to refuse this call; but the call is there for all without exception. 

… and for everybody, bishops, priests and laity together, the great sacrament of our common calling is our baptism … 

Some of this is familiar stuff – after all, in Matthew’s account Jesus’ last words are:

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you" (Mt 28:19-20a)

But wait a minute, all are called to be “… ministers … of the Kingdom”, that’s not so often realised.  So why is it that ‘ministers’ are thought to be those who lead churches, wear their collars back-to-front and are somehow more holy than the rest of us?  The Bible is very clear: all baptised Christians are called to minister God’s grace, mercy, love and truth.  The eminent theologian Professor Paul Stephens writes 15

Ministry is an ‘accordion’ word that has come to mean whatever air we put into it! … The Bible addresses this massive confusion with a liberating perspective: ministry is defined by Who is served … rather than the shape and location of the deeds done.  Ministry is service to God and on behalf of God in the church and the world.  Ministers are people who put themselves at the disposal of God for the benefit of others and God’s world.  It is not limited by the place where the service is rendered, the function, the need met, by the title of the person or even by the overt reference to Christ.  As we will see, the Greek word for ministry (diakonia) is simply the word ‘service’.  They are totally interchangeable ways of speaking of the same reality. …

… So those who follow Jesus and are incorporated into the family of God are servants.  The decisive thing about being a disciple of Jesus is diakonia, offering one’s life in the ‘employ’ of the Lord even unto death.  Christians are people who put themselves at the disposal of God. … Ministry is not an exceptional optional activity for the people of God but rather part of its essence 

And this view of Christian discipleship is not peculiar to one church tradition.  The seminal World Council of Churches (WCC) paper 111 Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry contains a section entitled The Calling of the Whole People of God 16, which opens the Ministry section of the paper and contains the paragraph:

The Holy Spirit bestows on the community diverse and complementary gifts.  These are for the common good of the whole people and are manifested in acts of service within the community and to the world.  They may be gifts of communicating the Gospel in word and deed, gifts of healing, gifts of praying, gifts of teaching and learning, gifts of serving, gifts of guiding and following, gifts of inspiration and vision.  All members are called to discover, with the help of the community, the gifts they have received and to use them for the building up of the Church and for the service of the world to which the Church is sent.

Whilst not binding on the 300 church traditions that belong to the WCC, the paper was reached with a “large measure of agreement” and we are asked to note “That theologians of such widely different traditions [including Roman Catholic] should be able to speak so harmoniously about baptism, eucharist and ministry is unprecedented in the modern ecumenical movement.”

It seems, then, that all major church traditions or denominations agree, even argue that all baptised believers should be involved in ministry to God, to each other and to the world. There is no disagreement about these ideas; it just takes a long time to get things moving! Pray God that this site and many other small initiatives may help God’s church to be a sign to the world of a better way, as we each grow in our ability to minister his grace, mercy, love and truth.