3-legged stools

I had a discussion the other day with Stuart, my current placement supervisor, and we were talking about 3-legged stools. It was in the context of models of ministry and holding the tension of theology, scripture and ministry. It was this last that we were mainly thinking of and Stuart offered his opinion that his particular ministry is ‘incarnational’ – he seeks to present Jesus to people through his care, concern and actions. We agreed that it was a pretty tall order but nonetheless gives a ‘model’ of ministry shaped by and shaping the understanding of theology and scriptural interpretation. The 3-legged stool comes in to the picture when, if you remove any one of the three, you lose integrity and direction. Without scripture ministry becomes person-centred in the wrong way; without theology we lose sight of the what and why; without a model of ministry we risk losing personal integrity and may become a facade for a ‘job’ rather than a vocation.

I wondered where I sat and what ‘ministry model’ I had that influenced the other two. I concluded that the key idea for me is ‘kingdom’. It’s probably pretty obvious from my other writings that the idea of ‘inaugurated eschatology’ (to use the buzzword) figures highly in my thoughts and the working out of this is that I believe that ushering in God’s kingdom through enabling and encouraging the gifts of others pretty much describes my ‘model’ of ministry. So, stripping away the theological language, it’s about being part of a community who seek to serve God with the gifts they have (and to actively seek and nurture God’s gifts) in a way that brings God’s love to the wider community they find themselves in. In many respects it overlaps with Stuart’s incarnational model but has its own distinctivenesses. And it clearly shapes, and is shaped by, my approach to scripture and understanding of theology.

We also couldn’t help but note that such images are annoyingly trinitarian. It’s almost like you’re being reminded of something 😉

6 responses to “3-legged stools”

  1. Yes, the pun was (unapologetically) deliberate.
    Sorry about the thinking thing but if I’ve got to do it, I’m not going to suffer alone 🙂

  2. It’s the panto joke time of year, so the pun was almost inevitable…
    (Why doesn’t GW Bush not watch much TV ?  A. He’s always pressing the red button !)
    I guess the thinking is a small price to pay…. Been giving some thought to the third ‘leg’ that would identify my kind of ministry and I’ve come up with ‘presence’. The act of ‘being there’ for people in times of joy and sadness and being able to celebrate and support, rather like Jesus at Cana and at Lazarus’s tomb, not forgetting Gethsemane.
    From your time with me, would you agree ?

  3. Yes, I think that would fit pretty well.
    I was thinking that they are all, in some respects, quite similar and I guess that’s to be expected as they all stem from the same root. What distinguishes them is the different emphasis or direction they tend towards. It’s a useful reminder that ‘ministry’ is about complementary gifts and not just about one person being all things to all people.

  4. You left a comment on my blog last night, after searching for some terms from yours online. Spookily enough, I had found youd blog exactly the same way.
    Your journey sounded interesting a pretty bold. I hope I’d have that courage if it came to the bit.

  5. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.
    As I’m sure you’re discovering, sometimes it’s not a matter of boldness but of giving in to the inevitable.

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