Shared ministry is the vision that everyone should have the opportunity to discover their own particular ministry, formal or informal, which uses their own God-given gifts. It’s very different from a model of choosing a small number of individuals (clergy) to do everything for us.
Ministry can be as simple and informal as one person asking a Christian friend to listen to or pray for them, or as formalised as the installation of the Archbishop of Wales. In between there is a range of ministry in which an individual or group is asked to do or be in the name of other Christians.
Some of these ministries require formal authorisation by licence from the bishop, because they involve representing the Church in Wales in a broad public way, such as in preaching or conducting a funeral or being a chaplain. Others are performed in the name of the mission area, such as taking communion to a housebound church member, or taking part in a service as a worship leader or running a youth group. Mission Areas are empowered to identify and commission these ministers. Other ministries might be exercised primarily on behalf of a local church, such as maintaining its website, running a lunch club, being a sidesperson or administering the chalice. These are for the local congregation to recognise and appoint.
The guiding principle is that the community of people in whose name the ministry is carried out should be empowered to investigate what roles are needed to meet their needs, help their members reflect on their calling to these ministries, and train and commission ministers to meet these needs. Local congregations, mission areas and the diocese and Province can each identify and commission people to serve in their name in different roles.
The new document Ministry Roles and Training in the Diocese of St Asaph provides information and resources to help those responsible for developing shared ministry in their mission areas to work towards this vision.