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Healing the Wound of Ministry: A New Paradigm

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In an age which has seen a remarkable expansion of the ministries of the whole people of God and equally remarkable advances in ecumenical dialogue concerning ministry it is also the case that the divide between clerical and lay ministries continues. As a result many significant issues between the churches remain unresolved. Conflict and confusion concerning the relations between the ministries continues to hamper effective and fruitful mission and impede ecumenical progress. Whilst there are many impressive attempts at a more collaborative approach to ministry the theological foundations are underdeveloped. In this respect recourse to contemporary Trinitarian thinking has not borne the fruit that it ought. This article attempts to sketch a new basis for understanding the relations between the ministries. It does this by drawing upon insights from complexity theory in science and the nascent organizational thinking building on it. The result is an understanding of ministry as a set of dynamically ordered relations in which ministries at all levels are co-related, fully relational and constitutive of each other. The theory is tested against scripture and some ecumenical implications of such an approach are briefly explored.

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