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Diakonia StudiesCritical Issues in Ministry$
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John N. Collins

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199367573

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199367573.001.0001

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Fitting Lay Ministries into a Theology of Ministry

Fitting Lay Ministries into a Theology of Ministry

(p.213) 13 Fitting Lay Ministries into a Theology of Ministry
Diakonia Studies

John N. Collins

Oxford University Press

Widespread participation of laity in the mission of the church after the Second Vatican Council continues to provoke attempts to produce a theological framework supporting these initiatives without impinging upon rights and responsibilities of the ordained. Terminology becomes confused as to the relative significance of terms like mission, apostolate, and ministry, and appeals to the “charismatic” character of any such activities add further to the confusion. Magisterial statements have re-enforced the ministerial rights of the ordained but have not succeeded in clarifying how theology best accounts for lay participation. Inevitably appeals to the New Testament have abounded (Ephesians 4:12; 1 Corinthians 12:4–6; Mark 10:45), but the outcomes remain conflicting. One main trajectory has been the appeal to a servant model; another emanates from baptism as initiation into a ministerial mode. Neither leaves scope for the play of the re-interpretation of ministry/diakonia. Today’s pastoral needs are substantially different from those of the era prior to 1950. Numerous contemporary accommodations of inherited, magisterially endorsed, or ecumenically agreed upon theologies of ministry stand in tension with each other and with the realities of church practice and societal needs. Contemporary literature continues to expose confusion as to the nature of ministry itself, thus inviting concerted efforts to identify the pastoral value of the recent re-interpretation of ministry/diakonia in the New Testament. This purports to show that ministry as proclamation brings communities to life, and life matures through a continuation of mandated teaching, through prophecy and through mutual upbuilding. The forms of ministry are of less import than the outcomes ministry provides. One versatile form of ministry suited to today’s diverse needs is the diaconate. This needs to be understood, however, outside of the narrow confines within which it has been widely redeployed.

Keywords:   diakonia, ministry, mission, apostolate, charism, laity, ordination, diakonia, ministry, mission, apostolate, charism, laity, ordination

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