Stephen Pickard, Theological Foundations for Collaborative Ministry

(Ashgate: United Kingdom: 2009)

In Theological Foundations for Collaborative Ministry, Stephen Pickard suggests we need to refocus our theological attention on Baptism as the undergirding principle by which all Christians are called to ministry.  Quoting Robert Hannaford , he argues for a firmly defined nuance:  “Baptism does not… so much bestow a ministerial calling as call someone into the ministerial community of the Church” (page 17).  A Trinitarian framework for examining Spiritual Gifting and Vocational Calling draws us into a balance between an Episcopalian framework for the ordering of ministry, and a Priesthood of all Believers framework for acknowledging the dynamic and diverse spiritual gifting of (for) the Church.  Rediscovering the relational basis for Ordained Ministry draws us beyond the current tendency towards an ecclesiology driven by managerial institutionalism, just as an emphasis on Trinitarian theology has reoriented our understanding of Doctrine and Worship in recent years.  “And there does seem to be a consensus that the clues, if not the answers, to some of the most intractable issues to do with the ministries of the Church lie buried in the riches of a dynamic Christian Trinitarianism” (page 43).  Pickard’s thesis is well argued, thoroughly evidenced and clearly elucidated in the implications for ecumenicalism and episcopacy.

I have been waiting to read this book for a long time – that is, it directs me to theological ways ahead on some really important issues for the Church and it’s Ministers (lay and ordained).  Extending the application of a relational Trinitarian theology as it has been rediscovered in recent years to both Ecclesiology and Ministry is a natural step forward in contemporary theological discussions, and indeed, seems blindingly obvious in hindsight.   “My ministry is called forth by the ministries of others.  The ministries animate each other.  There are no autonomous and self-perpetuating ministries.  Our life is not only hid in Christ, but our ministries are hid in Christ and in each other” (page 229).

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