It will soon be time in many of our congregations for theannual vestry meeting. In my conferences on congregational development and inmy own congregation I try to remind people that when we gather to discuss thebusiness affairs of the church, it is important to remember what business weare in. Otherwise, we run the risk of using inappropriate criteria in makingimportant decisions.
One of the tools I have used in various settings to help people reflect upon the ministry of their church is the following discussion guide to a passage from Matthew’s Gospel. I offer it here in the hope that you might find it useful in reflecting on the ministry of your church as you prepare for your annual meeting.
Matthew 9: 35-38
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ?The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’
Questions for reflection on this passage:
1) What do you think Jesus means when he says “the harvest is plentiful”?
2) If Jesus were to spend a day walking through your parish neighbourhood, do you think he might say much the same thing? If so, what would he see and hear that might prompt such a comment? If no, what do you think he might say about your parish neighbourhood and its opportunities for ministry?
3) In what ways (if any) has the harvest field of your parish neighbourhood changed in the past 25 years? How has the community changed? How have the people changed?
4) What kind of church do you think it would take to labour effectively in the harvest field of your parish neighbourhood? What would it take to be able to connect with the people who live there?
5) What are some of the obstacles it might face; a) from the community? b) from within your church?
6) What are some of the things the harvesters would have to know, or some of the skills they might need in order to work effectively in your harvest field?
May God guide you and encourage you as you prepare for this important meeting and move into a new season of ministry.
Canon Harold Percy is rector of Trinity Anglican Church in Streetsville, Ont., and the author or several books on evangelism.