Wednesday, October 14, 2015

“It takes a church to raise a minister.” Discuss

Today at our first staff meeting as a KCML (Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership) team, I began with a statement for ongoing discussion.

I pointed out how, given our recent move across the ditch, our endings and beginnings, how acutely aware we were of relationships. This is well-captured in the saying – it takes a village to raise a child. Healthy communities offer a wide range of relationships, which at all sorts of different levels, can contribute to growth. That’s the positive take. Equally, unhealthy communities offer a range of relationships, which, because of their lack, or because of their bite, can contribute to decline.

Pondering relationships, their fragility and vitality, I began to wonder if the proverb – it takes a village to raise a child could be applied to forming ministers. Is it that it takes a church to raise a minister? If so, what are the implications for us at KCML?

So today, at our team meeting, I introduced the statement. I invited discussion by offering one Biblical character (not telling who :)). Together as a team we had a very fruitful and rich conversation, one shaped by Scripture and placed alongside a set of living case studies, one that enabled all the team to contribute, one that led naturally into prayer and our business together.

As a result, we decided that in the coming weeks, we would keep exploring the question. We will take turns, each week, to bring a Biblical character or person in history. And we’ll see where the conversation goes, and what it might mean for us, for ministers and for the church.

Feel free to join us

1. What Biblical character or person in history would you introduce?
2. What insight might they bring to the statement – it takes a church to raise a minister?
3. What might be the implications today – for churches, for theological colleges, for ministers and those training and those considering training?

(in the comments)

Posted by steve at 01:44 PM


  1. Does make you wonder why so many churches import ministers.

    Comment by Martyn Woodsford — October 14, 2015 @ 5:35 pm

  2. I would probably nominate two Biblical characters with two different relationships with the faith community in their sphere of activity.

    Esther – the “cultural astronaut” who maintains roots to her community through Mordecai
    Daniel – who deals with cultural conflicts through prophetic non-compliance as an act of faithfulness

    Both needed nurture and support, how do we resource these today?

    Comment by David Ferguson — October 15, 2015 @ 12:26 pm

  3. Thanks David. Fascinating to have two Old Testament, and two exilic and two “non-ordained”; yet who in their own way offered significant ministry themselves.

    At Uniting College, we’ve introduced a core Beyond Sunday: faith in work course for all our students, to help them think through exactly your question “you to resource these today”…

    Steve Taylor

    Comment by steve — October 15, 2015 @ 12:36 pm

  4. Perhaps Martyn, because the church as local congregation is richer when at times it has ministry from the church more catholic. My sense of large church internship schemes is that they have many strengths, but a weakness in offering ways of thinking and ministering that are different to the culture of the church.


    Comment by steve — October 15, 2015 @ 12:37 pm

  5. Thanks for the info on that course Steve – I ran out of electives a while ago, but am glad that you are doing that work. I’m sure Graham Leo would also be interested in hearing about that, as it connects with his line of research.

    Yes, they are both non-ordained, but both needed to reflect deeply on a sense of call to come to their course of action.

    Comment by David Ferguson — October 16, 2015 @ 9:56 am

  6. Thank you Steve for the opportunity to join the team discussion.

    The kind of Church maketh the kind of minister, with the occasional exception.
    Jesus the Teacher: Facilitator of learning, inspires and maketh a learning and teaching church, and such a church
    forms and educates learning and teaching ministers to lead learning and teaching congregations or parishes. An Exploratory paper on “Jesus as the Teacher: Facilitator of Learning”

    Kind regards, John.

    Comment by John Littleton — October 18, 2015 @ 3:15 pm

  7. Thanks John. I do thing “church” can be used two ways in this conversation – church as congregation and church as catholic. I think both play a role in “making the minister.”


    Comment by steve taylor — October 19, 2015 @ 5:55 am

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