we went to the early service at church yesterday, something we’ve recently begun as we are part of the college ministry and there are a fair number of students who go to the contemporary service. we were talking with one of our seniors when he was interrupted by a phone call on his cell. he took the call and, after only a minute, asked if there was a staff minister available to talk with whomever it was on the phone. it happened that very few ministers were there yesterday morning, for one reason or another, but we connected him with one who was nearby. apparently something had happened in one of the dorms, which our student noticed on his way to church (there were many emergency vehicles present). our student called his friend who’s an RA in that dorm to check and see if everything was ok. it was that RA who called, needing a minister to help cope with the situation. al and i spoke with the staff minister who was planning to go over once he got the service under way and asked if he wanted someone to go with him. he replied that they were asking for a minister.
and that chapped my ass.
i know that this minister didn’t have any ill intention by making that comment. i’m sure that his response to the whole thing was a reaction more than it was thinking through the situation (or his analysis of the situation came up with “there’s only one available minister right now and i’m he”). i’m also pretty certain that there’s probably not a crisis response team or group of people upon which the church can call in times such as these. i do know for a fact that al and i are ministers–we both completed divinity school after all, i worked at wakemed for a year as a chaplain and al’s even ordained–and there were two PhD psychologists in the room who are trained to work with trauma victims, one of whom was a school psychologist for many year and dealt with crisis intervention in the schools (to include a school shooting). there were available ministers in the room. but as none of the four of us are on staff as “paid, professional holy people,” we don’t qualify.
whatever happened to everyone being a minister? whatever happened to calling on people to use their gifts? whatever happened to setting the laity free to do ministry? why can’t we get out of the mindset that if you’re not on staff, you’re not a minister?
at the same time, part of the reason i’m not a paid professional holy person is because i wasn’t set free to do ministry. i didn’t get to do the hands on stuff. i had to take care of administration and push paper more than i did actual hands on ministry. maybe this minister wanted a chance to have a hands on experience that morning. maybe not. either way, that’s what he got.