What are clergy for? In this lively and provocative volume, Alan Billings argues that they serve the mission and ministry of the Church, which is to make God possible. In each new era, how to carry out this mission effectively will vary, as the Church seeks to respond to changes in society and culture, but it is likely to involve clergy in a refocusing of their ministry. Part 1 of Making God Possible looks at recent cultural shifts and the challenges they present to Christianity in the twenty-first century. Part 2 explores some of the models of ministry which have been found in the Church in the past and which continue to exercise an influence: classical (the parson); evangelical (the minister); catholic (the priest), and utility (the social activist and personal therapist). The author skilfully draws out those things of lasting importance and value in each model that might contribute towards the renewal of the ordained ministry today.
In trying to understand the relationship of the British people to religion - specifically Christianity - we tend to say that people: believe - or do not; attend - or do not. The argument of Lost Church is that the majority of people do not really fit either of these categories. Rather, they 'belong' - in the sense that they feel some affinity to Christianity and the Church; they are not hostile to its ministers; they do not find churches alien places to be, and they turn to the Church and its clergy on specific occasions. But they do not want to attend regularly and their beliefs may be incoherent or even non-existent, and often flicker on and off like a badly wired lamp. This absorbing and encouraging volume is a call to lay Christians and clergy to take stock of what is happening and to recover an understanding of the Church that will not alienate those who 'belong' but rather enable ministry to them to continue.