We had a great PCC last night (for any clergy reading, really!). Everybody joined in and contributed, and solutions arose out of the meeting.
Collaborative ministry is all the rage – Archdeacons are thought to insist that it goes in every parish profile (even if that isn’t what the parish want) and much of my recent training has been around it – and I think that is absolutely right. But… where is it in the Bible? When Peter suggested that Jesus should not suffer there was no discussion or exploration, poor Peter got the full blast “Get behind me, Satan!“.
So where does collaborative ministry come from?
Well, of course, we are not Jesus; perhaps a better model for church leaders would be Peter himself, or Paul. And the debate about circumcision shows an openness to debate about issues, as he does when Cornelius approaches him.
Now I will admit that I feel on thin ice with these arguments, and perhaps there are better Biblical arguments out there I haven’t thought of.
Or… perhaps it is a case of preaching the gospel afresh to this generation. Collaboration is more and more accepted, expected even, in the world of work – insisting on Father knows best in the church might just act as a stumbling block. And after all, the clergy don’t have a hot line to God, and indeed God can work through non Christians – so why not listen to what people are saying, and adapt it.
However, this is not new. The Rule of Benedict says:
As often as anything important is to be done in the monastery, the prioress or abbot shall call the whole community together and explain what the business is; and after hearing the advice of the members, let them ponder it and follow what they judge the wiser course. The reason why we have said all should be called for counsel is that the Spirit often reveals what is better to the younger. The community members, for their part, are to express their opinions with all humility, and not presume to defend their own views obstinately. The decision is rather the prioress’ or the abbot’s to make, so that when the abbot or prioress of the community has determined what is more prudent, all must obey. Nevertheless, just as it is proper for disciples to obey their teacher, so it is becoming for the teacher to settle everything with foresight and fairness.