People encounter ministry in many different ways. Our Church distinguishes, delineates and provides for many kinds of ministry. These ministries are often based on worship style, demography, locality and cultural background.
Although these categories are notionally clear on paper, in practice people belong to multiple groups and move seamlessly between the various programs that have developed to meet their needs. This raises a host of challenges not only in terms of how these ministries should be organised and recognised but in terms of our expectations for attributes and skills formation.
Worship style is the most common way that Anglicans distinguish ministry. Many congregations offer services that are categorised as traditional, family, contemporary or alternative and reflect the range of liturgical resources used. While these services are designed to appeal to a variety of demographic groups, they often reflect deeper theological commitments and assumptions about what it means to be the church. Colloquially we speak of ‘high’, ‘low’ or even ’emerging’ Anglicans as a way of distinguishing between those of a more catholic, evangelical or post-modern disposition.
Demography is another way of distinguishing ministry often within a parish or congregation. Gender, age and ability differences mean that people have distinctive needs and interests for which specialised knowledge and practice is required. Small group and distinctive services for children, youth and young adults, the elderly and house-bound, as well as those with particular mobility or sensory needs and learning difficulties are found across Australia.
Locality is another important consideration. Ministry in urban, suburban and rural contexts is not simply a matter of geography but appetite and opportunities for ethnic diversity, economic prosperity, social mobility and scope for personal change.
Cultural background is a significant consideration in many ways. Australians are not all same. For better of worse, Anglicans have a cultural heritage oriented towards England that shapes the way we worship, govern ourselves and engage with the world around us. At the same time, our church has a deep commitment to working with indigenous people and a growing capacity to engage with recently arrived migrants from Asia, Africa and the Middle East.