At the Monday evening session of Quaker Camp, held near Barnesville, Ohio, June 22, 2008, we considered the following question:
What do we feel God encouraging us to do, or to do better, in our meetings at home to encourage and deepen ministry in our meetings for worship?
This is a summary of our responses:
A minister is a tool shaped and given by God, for God’s work. We need what God is offering us through the gift of ministry.
Corporate naming of a gift encourages its continuing development within the person to whom it has been given. Naming the gift also encourages the group’s ability to support it. Eldership is the gift that nurtures ministry and other spiritual gifts. Lack of effective support of a spiritually gifted person causes personal suffering and risks the extinction of the gift. However, care must be taken that approval be given in ways that are not excessive and therefore harmful to the minister’s gift.
What can we do to support ministry in our meetings?
- Consider and do something to meet the spiritual and the outward needs of people whose vocal ministry speaks to your condition.
- Encourage discernment within the meeting about the spiritual gifts and the readiness of Friends who are appointed to represent our meetings to other groups; and likewise encourage discernment of the spiritual gifts of other members.
- Teach about and use the vehicle of clearness committees to support and encourage ministry and spiritual growth.
- Have explicitly called meetings of ministers and elders (that is, of Friends with those particular gifts).
- Encourage accountability in both directions between ministers and their meetings.
Fears about spiritual authority and accountability quickly becoming oppressive [and] need to be recognized and addressed. Over all and under all must be the Love and Power of God, guiding and bringing Life to our ministry and its support. We can open access to that Power through prayer, through sensitivity, and through faithful responding.
— clerked by Susan Smith
Quaker Spring is a gathering of Friends seeking to “listen to the voice of the Inward Christ together”. It was originally called Quaker Camp for the first several gatherings (beginning in 2007).