On Monday I spent a lovely day with the Order for Baptist Minsitry, a kind of neo-monastic diasporic community thingy, with whom I certainly want to 'journey' for a while to see if it is 'for me'. It was a safe enough space to admit to 'spiritual tiredness' (there, I said it in public too!) and my need to find new wells or new buckets or something for refreshment. I came away feeling I'd made a new friend (at least online), with a kind of confirmation of something (or a couple of somethings actually ) I want to try with church, and that energises and excites me. During our chats, in a small group of five, we shared quite openly some of the challenges of the public/private interface in ministry with someone saying "sometimes you just have to put on the slap and get on with it"... a very pithy expression of what I concluded in my reflections for NZ.
Yesterday I had an interesting day with the College of Baptist Ministers, an embryonic 'professional body' that insists it is not a trade union (though some of what it says sounds a bit like one) or a replacement for Ministries Dept (though some people are certainly hearing it in that way) but I'm not entirely convinced I know what it is. Parallels were drawn with the RCN (which is a union I think) or the RCP or RCS (which are learned bodies). I think the aspirations are good, if sounding a little legalisitic and I am certainly going to think very seriously about signing up, largley because it does offer a sense of accountability (albeit epxressed in what seems a very 'male' 'functional' model). If the law changes, and ministers become 'employees' rather than 'office holders' then organsiations such as this may prove important. However, if the motivation for them is purely and simply projected legal changes and an increasingly litiginous society, then I am disappointed - we should be inviting people to covenant their committment to CMD because it's the right the to do, not because we want to protect ourselves from nasty court cases. Alas, the timing and motivation suggest more of the latter than the former - even if the intent is, I am convinced, good. At £75 per year, it's not cheap (it was pointed out to me it's about half what I pay the engineering institutions... but then I get paid less than half what I would if I were in industry) but I expect that once I've mulled a bit further, I will sign up, at least for an initial couple of years.
In between I got to watch 'Rev' sat next to the BUGB Team Leader for Ministries and his wife.... :) Divine humour in every sense of the phrase!!