Dear St Andrew’s Church family,
It is a joy to write to you all as I begin a relationship with you all, in the role of Resource Minister through Kaimai Presbytery. This is a new role for Presbytery and everyone is finding their feet. Rather than have a Minister appointed part-me to a peculiar parish, the resource minister is spread part-me across several parishes, to encourage and help resource as needed a lay team of people who oversee the ministry in the parish life.
Ministry is the role of every member of the church family. All the members of the congregation, led by a Local Ministry Team, share the responsibilities that were traditionally carried by ‘a Minister’.
It’s not the role of the resource minister to do the ministry for your church. Think of the early church as we read about it in the leers of Paul the apostle in the New Testament. He wrote to encourage local people in their church life, but didn’t get to see them very often and didn’t do much of the on-the-ground tasks of ministry for them. But he wrote to the communities to help build up relationship.
And actually, ministry is all about relationship – our relationship with God, with others, and with self; yes, we know about the first two but sometimes we forget the third one: our self. And perhaps one of the crucial aspects of ‘relationship with self’ is the issue of confidence. If self-confidence is not present, then relationship with God and others can also be a struggle.
There’s a fascinating story about Puccini and his production of Madam Butterfly. The opening night had a terrible reception – the audience hissed and booed at the actors so that the first night was also the last night. Can we imagine how the actors felt? Can we imagine how Puccini felt – having used his abilities and imagination to write a music score – what would it do to your confidence to be hissed and booed? But Puccini wrote an encouraging letter to the distressed leading lady to lift her spirit and wish her well. Then he sat down for several months to rewrite the opera! When it was next presented it was a huge success and Puccini had ten stage calls!
That’s confidence – being able to listen to critics so that you can improve on what you’ve already done; not just blindly saying, ‘to heck with them all’ nor saying, ‘they must be right, how useless I must be’ and in either case putting to the side what you have done. But staying with believing in what you’ve written/ said/ or produced; listening, making a judgment, persisting, following through. In the case of your loving work in your church-life, have confidence in yourself, and in the God who has called you to grow into all kinds of good things as a faith community. I look forward to coming to know you more and working alongside you all.