Monday, February 14, 2011

Why is Collaborative Ministry So Difficult?

Off and on over the years there have been attempts within the Church to incorporate within Church ministry different ways to do pastoral work: team ministry,  partnership, collaborative ministry a community vision for the work. The attempts in Korea do not get the publicity they seem to deserve, or maybe they may not have been as successful as contemplated when started.

Looking back at one of the attempts (its web site is no longer operating), one can see that the dream was to work on educational programs for team ministry-- a suggestion that apparently came from the  Synod  of the Seoul Diocese, but the  effort did not achieve the expected results.  Discussion of the topic also took place in our diocese but there was little interest.

Because the work a pastor is asked to do  is usually beyond his capabilities, this vision of working as a team becomes a dream for many. The basic goal of the team ministry (and wherever it's been tried, it follows the same pattern) is to work with others in coming to decisions, in the execution of those decisions, and getting diversified talent to help out.

The priest responsible for the  movement in Seoul expressed it as casting off the one-person approach to the work and working in solidarity in a horizontal manner with others to give life to the community.

He finds models of this approach from the incidents in the life of Moses (Exodus 4:13-16), where Moses was given the mission by God and then shared it with Arron. He mentions Joshua and Caleb and others, and also Jesus, who sent the disciples out by twos.

There are a number of things that have to be remembered, he reminds us:

1) A common vision of Church. All must have similar ideas and  values and be able to come to a consensus, otherwise it will not work.
2) The Church's Canon law has to be followed.
3) Respecting everyone as having  received the call of discipleship.
4) Getting  rid of all discrimination: gender, age, birthplace, education, etc.
5) Conscious of the vocation to the work in the  Church
6) A fair distribution of the work among those with different talents.
7) A mechanism of communication has to be established  and continued.
8) Educational programs for the group have to continue.

This is a big order, and possibly the reason success stories are few. There are also the synergistic  results that can be expected when we are able to sacrifice some of our autonomy; this is difficult, for the ego is not easily subdued. And yet, the Church would seem to be the ideal place for team ministry to thrive.

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