Monday, August 27, 2007

Question #7

I am still poking along but here is question #7.

Which of the responsibilities and duties is aimed at internal church life and which is aimed at external church outreach? How do you feel about what you discover?

Word and ecclesial acts:
Internal: It is obvious that preaching and worship are internal to church life since 99.9% of the time the formal worship services happening within the walls of the church. The same can be true to the parts about counseling and performing other ecclesial acts like marriage and burials. Majority of these acts will happen within the internal walls of the church.
External: There is possibilities for external church outreach though in this category. We are to visit, which can lead us out of the church and into the community. The responsibilities state, "especially among the sick, aged, imprisoned, and other in need." Although we are to visit these people we are not limited to them. We can be ecclesially active in the greater community but visiting clubs, prisons, and all places where we can make an impact for Christ in the world.

Sacrament:
Internal: Once again much of this will happen in the confines of the church making it an internal duty.
External: The only way I can see this as an external outreach is if we truly take this out into the world. I haven't figured out in which ways yet, but I know they exist.

Order:
Internal: Because much of this responsibility is in the inner workings of the church, with paperwork and meetings, this too will be mainly internal. Much of these duties are taking care of administrative items on the local and conference levels, so I would say 90% of this is internal.
External: The only one I can see that is external might be the d section. It states, to lead the congregation in racial and ethnic inclusiveness. I can see this becoming and external outreach if there is a part of the society that is not inclusive already. The church can be the place where inclusiveness is preached and discussed and then the world is where it is lived out.

Service:
Internal: Much of the internal part of this duty is done with the teaching and preparing.
External: It is this duty that has the most direct link to external outreach. This is where we help the less fortunate, the least of these in the world. This is the hands-on actions of living out a Christian life and ministry.

What I found most interesting about this question is the second part of the question, How do you feel about what you discover? What I discovered is that the responsibilities and duties of an Elder of the UMC are mainly done within the church. I wanted to call this out as bad and a farce but there is truth and honesty in this. We, as ministers, are called to lead, to shepherd, council, preach, instruct, administer, explain, visit, conduct and so forth. We are to do also. We are to reach out into the world but that is also the greater church's job. The clergy cannot do everything and if we do then are we being the church?

I am not suggesting that clergy are not active in the outreach of the church but it is the laity's job and duty to be extremely active in that area and not to think that if their minister is out doing it they are fine. If a pastor is doing his duty, then that pastor is inspiring, leading, instructing, and giving the guidance and strength for the church to go out and be the Church.

This 'discovery' is not settling well with me and I am not sure why quite yet. There is something odd about it. If most of my ministerial duties are internal am I living out the duties that Christ calls us to? There is more but that is all I can put my finger on at the moment. Until then...

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