Ministry Development is a mystery word to many people, but a significantly important concept in the life of the Episcopal Church. In the Book of Common Prayer’s Outline of the Faith (Commonly Called the Catechism), there is a section entitled The Ministry which begins by asking “ Who are the ministers of the Church? The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons.” The catechism goes on to describe the character of ministry for each order in the church. Ministry Development is that work of the Church-at-large which helps people to celebrate the truth that God has given us all gifts for ministry, serving in the name of Christ Jesus.
The work of Ministry Developers is to help each person to identify and strengthen those gifts and offer them for the work of God’s kingdom and the building up of the Body of Christ, wherever we may be. Ministry Development takes many forms, including spiritual gifts discernment, formation of mutual ministry teams, and education of congregations and individuals concerning what it is we promise to do and be at our baptism. In April, fifteen Ministry Developers from all over the U.S. and Canada, including Minnesota’s Jason Lucas, gathered at Sandscrest Conference Center in Wheeling, WV, as part of a program sponsored by the Ministry Developer’s Collaborative, the program arm of the Living Stones Partnership. Living Stones meets annually for a conference to explore and review the different programs and approaches offered in dioceses engaged in intentional ministry development.
It is hoped that, through the resources and support of the Ministry Development Cohort program, that participants will bring to each diocese a fresh perspective to the work of strengthening individuals and congregations as they live into their baptismal vows and engage in serving Christ in the world. The Ministry Development Cohort program was paid for by grants from the Roanridge Foundation and the Living Stones Partnership.