Here is a little of my personal history and reflections. I am at a point in my own journey where I find myself reflecting deeply on how God is calling us to be church. When I went to Divinity School or seminary, the model was to have a seminary trained priest for each congregation. Even in those days, there were congregations who had to share in yoked ministries or in clusters. When the Bishop of North Dakota asked me in the mid-80’s, to work with him in ministry development, a new vision opened for me. Now I believe what we are doing is part of a larger thing that God is doing. In the last few years there has been considerable talk about emergent church, sometimes called emerging church, as well as talk about the Missional Church. As I read and talk with people, my sense is that all of this is part of a broader movement led by the Spirit that is affecting Christian churches. Changes are occurring in the Anglican Communion, as well as in other branches of the Christian Church. I believe what we are doing in Total or Shared Ministry is part of this broader movement.
I believe that this is all about transformation initiated by God and led by the Holy Spirit.
First, I want to mention the terms we use in Minnesota. We use the terms “Total Ministry” and “Shared Ministry,” and while they are very similar, there is a little difference in connotation. When all this was getting started in Minnesota back in the ”˜90’s, the term Total Ministry was used. When Total Ministry got started, it was in small congregations who no longer had a vicar or rector. Then several years ago, St. Luke’s in Hastings came along as a new variation. They had had a full time rector but because of economic factors, they could not afford that model any more. Their rector agreed to go to half time and they called a ministry team to work with her. They decided the term Shared Ministry worked better for them because it indicated that they had a half time rector who shared the ministry with the team, and then by extension, all the baptized in the congregation. Whether we call it Total Ministry or Shared Ministry, most of what I have to say today applies equally to both. The process of how it works is pretty much the same either way.