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The joys and challenges of ministry

December 11, 2017



The Junior Ministers 2017

The Junior Ministers (in their first ten years of ministry) of the Methodist Church in Ireland met recently for their annual meeting.  Two of the presenters at the meeting were the Rev Dr Ken Wilson on the theme  of ‘The Challenge of Ministry’ and the Rev John Alderdice on the theme of ‘Tensions in Ministry’.  These were two very apposite subjects bearing in mind the results of a recent, short survey conducted by the Rev Ross Harte amongst Junior Ministers about the joys and challenges of their ministry.


From the survey, the most fulfilling aspect of ministry is leading worship and preaching (50%). Further satisfaction comes from leading people to Christ (27%), meeting people in their homes (23%) and walking with people through illness and death (23%). This suggests a strong link between the call to ministry and the desire to lead God’s people in worship and discipleship along with a compassionate drive to be with people in their difficult times.

Perhaps understandably, the challenge selected by most people was not having enough time to do everything they want (or are expected) to do (39%). Time pressures necessarily lead to the prioritisation of some aspects of ministry, which can lead to tension both internally and with other people. Loneliness (or not having any ‘real’ friends in the church) was the second most selected challenge (31%). Perhaps this is because ministers find themselves surrounded by people but unable to form deeper relationships that aren’t governed by an unwritten ‘pastor-client’ contract.

Every role comes with its joys and challenges, but at present it appears that some junior ministers might not be flourishing in the way we might hope. The Rev Harte suggests taking a moment to commit to praying daily for our ministers as they help the Church find its way through this season of anxiety and uncertainty.

A full account of the junior ministers’ meeting and the Rev Harte’s survey will be published in the January issue of the Methodist Newsletter.


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