Local Ministry Teams

Local Ministry Teams (or Local Shared Ministry Teams) are one way of answering the question of leadership in small congregations. They are being developed in Presbyterian Congregations in urban and rural settings and with Anglicans and Methodists and other partners in Co-operating Ventures.

A Local Ministry Team (LMT) is a form of locally provided (or local shared) ministry leadership in which the responsibilities of “the minister” are exercised by a small group of local leaders and training and support for them and the wider leadership of the congregation is provided by a resource minister or ministry enabler.

Local Ministry Teams were introduced in the Presbyterian Church in 2002. Similar ministry arrangements are being developed in Anglican and Methodist churches and we are learning from their experience.

Local Ministry Teams are suitable where there is a strong commitment to encouraging the gifts of the whole people of God, and the faith to believe that the congregation can itself provide the ministry and leadership needed to maintain worship and mission.

There needs to be a willingness to work with others in mutual encouragement and accountability. Healthy teams need to learn skills of honesty and affirmation and develop a culture of encouragement in the congregation as a whole, but this is not necessarily easy.

The LMT option tends to suit parishes that do not see themselves in the position of calling a NOM or a LOM. Small congregations who are part of a larger regional parish can also thrive in a whole new way by developing a Local Ministry Team.

Benefits and difficulties of LMTs

Potential benefits:

  • Enables a small congregation to maintain worship, pastoral care and Christian witness in a situation where closure may have been seen as the only option.
  • Helps people get a fresh flexible vision for worship and mission in the community.
  • Develops people’s faith and leadership gifts.
  • Engages people in the life of their church and community.
  • Works well in both ecumenical and Presbyterian situations.
  • Draws on the experience of other churches.
  • Frees up congregational finances for mission.
  • Provides a strong foundation for growth.

Difficulties that may arise:

  • LMT members may overwork themselves instead of facilitating the gifts of others.
  • The time taken to discern that this is an appropriate model and get permission from all the parties may be too long.
  • The decision may be too late to save the congregation.
  • The Resource Minister may try to run everything rather than provide teaching and training for the LMT and other leaders
  • There can be role confusion between the LMT and the Parish Council and the Parish Council may feel that the LMT is making decisions without wider consultation.
  • It takes too long to manage changes in the LMT and provide them with training and authorisation from the Presbytery.
  • Issues of communication and conflict resolution may be too difficult to handle.
  • Confusion may arise when a member of the LMT leaves.

CV Terminology

Terminology can be confusing. Anglican Dioceses, and Presbyterian, Methodist and other Partners in Cooperating Ventures, use similar but different terms. The generic terms recommended by the UCANZ Consultation meeting in July 2005 were:

Local Shared Ministry - the general term for ministry leadership that is provided from among the local members of the congregation.
Local Support Team - the core leadership group in the congregation : what Presbyterians refer to as the Local Ministry Team
Enabler -  the coach of the Local Support Team whom Presbyterians refer to as the Resource Minister.
Local Ordained Ministers - Are also in a strict sense a form of locally provided ministry, but their style of ministry leadership may or may not be close to that of local shared ministry.

Local Ministry Team (LMT)

A form of collaborative ministry authorised by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ).  This is one of four strands of ordained ministry affirmed in the PCANZ.  Those ordained to ministries of word and sacrament function in mutual ministry with other elders as one ministry ‘portfolio’ among others.  No one person is inducted, rather a ministry support team is commissioned.  Those who are ordained to ministries of word and sacrament are commissioned as part of a team and their ordination is linked to the ministry of the team.

Locally Provided Ministry (LPM)

An earlier term for Local Shared Ministry which has grown out of experiments with “total ministry”  which seeks to involve as many members of the congregation as possible in the ministry of the church. The common provisions of UCANZ state that  “Locally provided ministry is a model in which all roles of ministry are fulfilled by members of the cooperative venture.  It is an alternative form of ministry to either full or part time, provided by one or more stipended or non-stipended persons appointed to the parish.  It includes models of local team ministry currently used by any of the Partners.  It is a model of one of the ways by which the community of the baptised carries out their ministry.” In a real sense both Local Ministry Teams and Locally Ordained Ministry are forms of “locally provided” ministry in contrast to that which may be called from outside the parish.

Local Shared Ministry (LSM)

This is the name used in the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch for the kind of collaborative ministry intended by LMT and LPM.  Previously this style of ministry was known as Total Ministry in the diocese and some still use that term.

Comment:  The underlying intention and ethos of this kind of ministry is very similar across denominations and in Cooperating Ventures.  However, in each particular situation its implementation is governed by the particular local needs for ministry and mission and the wider denominational structures and traditions, which apply. ‘It is not a programme nor a system but rather a way of being, an attitude, a culture’. (Bishop Stewart Zabriskie of Nevada)

Resource Minister

A term used in the Presbyterian Church for the Enabler.  “Where a presbytery agrees to a congregation establishing a LMT Presbytery is required to appoint an experienced minister to be a resource person to the congregation and those sharing the ministry.  The resource minister will act as a ministerial advisor to the ordained ministers in the team and help the development of collaborative ministry in the team.  The resource minister has a role in encouraging and supporting individual and shared learning.”

Ministry Enabler

A term used in Cooperating Ventures and in the Anglican Church.  The guidelines for Cooperating Ventures state, “A Ministry Enabler [Job description to be written] shall be appointed from outside the parish.  This appointment shall be jointly discussed and approved by all the parties.  The appointment shall be for a specific term.  Oversight of the Parish shall be by the denomination from which the Ministry Enabler is appointed.  Changes in Denomination Oversight shall not change the model or personnel of locally provided ministry in the Cooperative Venture.  Any changes must be fully discussed by all parties, again with the JRC as coordinator.  Payment of the Ministry Enabler’s stipend shall be met by the Cooperating Venture.”  In the Anglican Diocese it is expected that the Ministry Enabler would be ordained.

Calling

This is a process whereby the parish discerns whom God is calling to various ministry roles in the life of the church including ordained ministries.  It is part of a wider process that seeks to identify the gifts and ministries of all the baptised and the particular supports they need from the church to carry those ministries out in their daily lives.  Calling would normally have some congregational involvement as well as discernment and confirmation through both local and wider denominational processes as applicable e.g., Presbytery and Diocese.  The parties agree about the actual process of how a calling is done before it happens.

Covenant Group

A term used in the Anglican Diocese to describe a group who undertake ministry formation training and education and further discernment after the calling process and before the parish is commissioned.
The duration, the content involved, the expectations of the group, individuals and for wider church support are agreed by the parties who along with the group sign a covenant about these and other issues.  After commissioning the Ministry Support Team will be made up of members who have been part of this covenant group.

The Ministry Support Team (MST) or Local Support Team

A term generally used in Anglican Churches and CVs. It is the equivalent to the Presbyterian Local Ministry Team. It describes a group that has been called, and commissioned to support and encourage the ministry of all the baptised and each other. The team will meet regularly with the Ministry Enabler and individually as required. The Parish Council, or equivalent, continues to be the local court of governance.  Members of the MST shall be responsible for carrying out the tasks assigned by Parish Council.

Key Steps

  1. Work with Presbytery to discern and approve this pattern of leadership
  2. Locate a Resource Minister acceptable to the Parish and Presbytery who is able to give one day a week to the parish.
  3. Prepare a budget
  4. Decide on the roles needed in the team and who should fill them
  5. Work through the training needed before and after the commissioning of the team
  6. Identify post-commissioning support
  7. Plan a mechanism for review and renewal to handle changes in team membership year by year.
  8. Formalise an agreement with the Presbytery and team members regarding employment.

Training requirements are negotiated between the parish, the people involved, the Presbytery and the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership. In some cases it may be possible to tap into Anglican and Methodist training programmes. The Presbytery should take responsibility for training the LMT in the administration of the sacraments. The Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership can help resource this training upon request.

LMT FAQ

1. We are a Presbyterian Parish with a Lay Supply Pastor and we are not sure about the future. How do we know whether a Local Ministry Team is right for us?

Do you have a vision for involving as many as possible in the ministry of the church?
Is the congregation willing to fund a Resource Minister at 20% of stipend and allowances?
Is your lay supply pastor willing to be part of the team and is the parish willing to call and support them as a member of the team?
Have you explored with the Presbytery and others involved the alternative of calling your lay supply pastor as a Local Ordained Minister and would he or she be willing to commit to the training involved?
Is the presbytery prepared to extend the existing contract for a period to enable all parties to discern whether this is the model of ministry they are called to follow?
Is the Interim Moderator able to help the parish and presbytery work through these issues?

2. What Presbyterian Guidelines should a Cooperating Venture use?

The Presbyterian Local Ministry Team guidelines apply.  These may need to be updated in the framework of the 2006 Book of Order.
Following a ruling by the Assembly Executive Secretary in June 2006, it is likely to be generally accepted that in Cooperating Ventures involving Anglicans, Presbyterian members of the Ministry Support Team / Local Ministry Team called to preside at communion and baptism will be ordained by the Presbytery whether or not they have already been ordained as elders.

3. Is there a fuller version of the Presbyterian guidelines somewhere?

The guidelines currently available will be added to as our experience develops.  It is wise for a parish and a presbytery or uniting church council working with the local ministry options to check with the National Mission Advisor.  With regard to the regulations these are the requirements which have to be followed unless and until the Assembly approves any amendments to the regulations in the same way that any other regulations relating to ministry and to parish life and mission which may be changed from time to time.

4. Does the Presbyterian Church have a job description for the Ministry Enabler or, as the LMT guidelines calls them, the ‘Resource Minister’? 

The Resource Minister is the coach of the team but not the leader. A draft template is being prepared for the Ministry Expectations for a Resource Minister.  Each parish with a local ministry team will have particular needs and expectations with regard to its Resource Minister so each agreement will need to be tailored to the particular situation but the template will provide a model which should be easy to write up as required.

5. The LMT guidelines refer in several places to national guidelines which are to be prepared to cover some aspects of this particular model of ministry. Are those guidelines available yet? 

Unfortunately no. They are still in the development phase.

6. From a Presbyterian point of view, would the Ministry Enabler/Resource Person need to be ordained, or could that Person be Lay?

In a Cooperating Venture, yes; in a Presbyterian parish usually but not necessarily.
The expectation has been that the person fulfilling that role would normally be a NOM approved by the presbytery.  The minister might be a minister of the presbytery, or from a neighboring presbytery, or, the case of a co-operating venture, it might be appropriate for the presbytery, after appropriate negotiation with the relevant groups and individuals, to appoint a minister from one of the other partner churches.
The Presbytery should be able to decide. The aim is to facilitate ministry and sometimes the particular person who is best able to do that is not ordained.

7. What do we need to be aware of in drawing up an implementation process for LMT/Locally Provided Ministry in a Co-operating Parish? 

Because this is a new model for our church some of the processes at the moment are evolving and we realise that this can be frustrating for the pioneers but pioneers are the ones who help get new models and methods into current practice!
We need to respect the regulatory framework of the partner churches, but there may be differences to be navigated for co-operative ventures, there is a certain amount of extra negotiation which will need to happen including with the JRC.

8. In the case of an LMT parish, it seems that ordination is for a defined period, to be reviewed by Presbytery. In the case of Anglicans ordination is for life as with the case of all those ordained in the Anglican ministry. How does Presbytery see this being worked out in the case of a Co-operating Parish? 

There needs to be quite a long answer to this question.

  • There is a distinction to be drawn between ordination to the ministry of word and sacrament and the authorisation to exercise that ordination.
  • In the Presbyterian Church ordination to the ministry of word and sacrament happens once and is for life.  It is the same for ordination to the eldership.
  • However, in order to be able to exercise the functions of that ordination a person has to be appropriately authorised.
  • In Anglican terms this would be to hold a Bishop’s Licence.
  • In Presbyterian terms it requires an appropriate authorisation by the presbytery which is normally induction or commissioning to a particular appointment.
  • The situation of a person who is ordained to the ministry of word and sacraments as part of a Local Ministry Team (in terms of Presbyterian authorisation) is very similar to that of an elder.
  • The person is ordained once.
  • The person is inducted or commissioned into office, either as a part of a local ministry team or as an elder of a session or parish council.
  • If and when a person leaves the team or the session/parish council the authorisation the person holds then lapses.
  • If the person moves to another place and then is identified and elected to be an elder in another congregation or a member of a Local Ministry Team he/she does not have to be ordained again but does have to be inducted as a elder on the session/parish council or commissioned as a new member of a local ministry team so that the authorisation to officiate is properly established.
9. Should not the 2002 Assembly papers have included reference to and recognition of locally provided ministry in Co-operative Venture Parishes? Is there a Presbyterian document that addresses this issue? 

The needs of co-operative ventures were very much in the minds of those in the Presbyterian Church who worked on the local ministry provisions.  However, the Presbyterian Church is also mindful that there are other partner churches in the Forum of Uniting Congregations as well as the Anglican Church.
It was felt that the appropriate place to address the issues of local ministry in co-operative ventures was through the Forum.  Some discussion on local ministry has already taken place at the Forum Standing Committee.

10. Is there a ‘step by step’ document for this process available?

This paper provides an outline for processes in a Presbyterian parish. In a Cooperating Venture, the Joint Regional Committee and the partner denominations involved also need to be consulted and adequate time allowed for this.

11. Will training be local?

The principle behind local ministry is that training will be tailored to the needs of the individual people who are being trained and the needs of the situation for which they are being trained. So the training needs and the provision of that training will vary.

The intention is that most of the training will be done locally and provided by the Presbytery or the School of Ministry staff. Some may also be done through distance learning eg through the Ecumenical Institute of Distance Theological Studies (EIDTS), the Bible College of New Zealand or the University of Otago.

Some of the block courses at the Presbyterian School of Ministry may be suitable for some LMT members.

Sometimes attendance at a conference in another part of the country might be a useful part of someone’s training.  Obviously, attendance at training events away from home involves some expense but it would not be unreasonable for a parish to budget for its ministry team to attend, say, one conference or training event away from home base each year.  Apart from anything else, this would help keep the ministry team connected with the wider church of which the parish is a part.
Training needs analysis and a training record for members of the LMT will be needed.

12. Is the training model envisaged for LMT going to be appropriate to the LPM (locally provided ministry) model in a co-operative venture? 

The goals of training for both models are similar i.e. to equip those in leadership to fulfill their roles.  Obviously, in any particular co-operative venture, there may need to be some discussion and negotiation among the parish and the partner churches to work out details.

13. What freedom does the LMT model give to encompass and train all denominations involved in the parish?   

By negotiation all can be involved.  Sometimes the situation for a co-operative venture is a bit more complex than for a single denomination parish but you have the advantage of being able to make best use of all the facilities for training on offer from the partner churches.

14. Will the ordination process be carried out through the JRC or directly by each participating denomination?

The role of the JRC is to co-ordinate processes and events.  It has no authority to ordain or appoint.  Ordination will be by the relevant partner church.  In a co-operative venture this may be one of the partners or several of them.
If more than one person is to be ordained they may be ordained by one of the partner churches or one may be ordained by one partner church and one by another partner church.
The people being ordained may have a preference for being ordained by one of the partners if they have been part of that tradition and that would be taken into account during the discussion, or so I would assume.

15. In a CV does oversight have to alternate e.g. between Presbyterian and Anglican? Or should it not be based rather on finding the person best qualified for the task, regardless of denomination?  

The question of the role and term of the church of oversight is a matter for the Forum to determine, after consultation with the partner churches.  The Forum would then make provision, in the Guide to Procedures, for whatever process is to be followed.
There may be some confusing of the role of the church of oversight and the role of the Resource Minister/Ministry Enabler.  Generally, it might be expected that the Resource Minister /Ministry Enabler is appointed by the church of oversight and that the Ministry Enable/Resource Minister would be from the same denomination.
A church of oversight might well decide, after appropriate consultation and negotiation with all concerned, to appoint a minister from one of the other partners to be the Resource Minister/Ministry Enabler because that person would be the best person for the job.

16. How does the LMT relate to Session or Parish Council and other courts of the church?

The LMT functions as the minister and the other courts of the church continue as they are. As we develop experience there may be more guidelines which are needed.

17. My understanding is that becoming a marriage celebrant goes with ordination and induction into the ministry of word and sacrament, but does that apply to all members of a LMT?

Only one person on the team needs to be a marriage celebrant. The basic idea is that key functions are covered, but that does not require all members of the team to do everything. It is a team not job sharing.

LMT Key Considerations

1. The Local Ministry Team is collectively “the Minister”

Usually one of the LMT members will be the moderator or chair of the parish council or session, another the ministerial representative on the Presbytery or UDC, and another authorised and trained to preside at communion and conduct baptisms. There may also be a person on the team with special responsibility for pastoral care or parish administration, or they may be leaders outside the LMT itself.

2. The LMT is not the whole leadership team; it is usually about 3 or 4 people.

There is still a wider leadership group of elders and parish councillors with specific responsibilities. The LMT may all be on the parish council or session, but they are not the whole of the parish council or session. There are roles such as worship leaders, music leaders, parish administrators, youth leaders, who may be part of the wider team as they would in a congregation with a standard Minister.

3. Members of the LMT should not feel obliged to go to everything.

This can be quite hard as they will probably want to and sometimes it is unavoidable, but unless some meetings and events are deliberately attended by only one member of the LMT, team members will be quickly overloaded in their time commitment. Division of duties is important.

4. Communication and co-ordination within the team, with the team and others in parish leadership, and with the congregation as a whole, are very important.

Think about how often the LMT should meet, what forms of communication work best (e.g., updates in parish newsletter, monthly reports to parish leadership), and what duty rosters (including worship) are needed to make sure that people know what they are supposed to be doing.

5. Ecumenical requirements and words are similar but different, and ecumenical sensitivities should be respected.

Those in CVs know this already! There are slight differences in terminology and some concerns to be navigated. A Presbyterian LMT is an Anglican or CV Ministry Support Team. A Presbyterian Resource Minister is an Anglican or CV Ministry Enabler. A Cooperating Venture may find that there is difficulty with Presbyterian authorisation of ordained elders to preside at Communion and needs to make other provision. Presbyteries may decide to ordain rather than just commission in this situation. This would be necessary in any case if the person called to sacramental leadership was a parish councillor not an elder.

For Presbyterians the Resource Minister (Ministry Enabler) is not part of the line of authority to higher courts of the church (that is provided by the LMT member and the parish elder on Presbytery), and as a result a Presbytery may appoint a suitable Resource Minister who is not ordained. This may be different for other churches.

LMT Resources

  • Andrew DawswellMinistry Leadership Teams. Theory and practice in effective collaborative ministryPastoral Series (You can purchase online and down-load a pdf file)
  • Andrew Dawswell, Ministry Leadership Teams, Further Resources (free).
  • Diocese of Auckland: Local Shared Ministry
  • Robin Greenwood and Caroline PascoeLocal Ministry. Story, process & meaning, SPCK, 2006
  • Robin GreenwoodThe Ministry Team Handbook, SPCK, 2000
  • Dave MullanThe Cavalry Won’t be Coming. Strategies for local shared ministry by volunteer teams in small congregations, ColCom Press, 20 Tui Grove, Paihia 0252.
  • Waihao Co-operating Church (Anglican Presbyterian) Calling Form and Order of Service.

Resource Minister

Resource ministers are coaches for Local Ministry Teams.

They are called by the parish and appointed by the presbytery with a contract involving all parties specifying responsibilities, expectations and arrangements for payment. A lay person trained in Transition Ministry or otherwise qualified may also be considered as Resource Minister, but in the case of Cooperating Churches, this may be affected by the requirements of other Partner Churches.

Training may be offered through the School of Ministry or in conjunction with Partner Church training events.

A typical appointment is 20% – one day a week, particularly during the period of discernment and initial training, but less than this may be appropriate after the Team has been commissioned. LMT resource ministry may be held in conjunction with other church appointments including parish ministry or the support of other Local Ministry Teams.

A Resource Minister is not a member of the Congregation, and although responsible to the Presbytery, is not the channel by which the relationship of the Congregation to the Presbytery is mediated. The Local Ministry Team takes responsibility for their own decisions and the facilitation of the decisions of the Congregation. The Resource Minister provides ongoing training in ministry and mission skills for the Team and for members of the congregation generally.

The Presbytery through its Ministry Committee may need to actively liaise between the parish and the resource minister as the role develops over time.

Note ‘Book of Order’ 5, 214A: ‘Where a Presbytery agrees to a congregation establishing a Local Ministry Team, Presbytery will appoint an experienced minister to be a resource minister to the congregation and those sharing the ministry. The resource minister will act as a ministerial advisor to the ordained ministers in the team and help the development of collaborative ministry in the team. The resource minister has a role in encouraging and supporting individual and shared learning’.