Monday, 4 June 2012

Conducting ministry

The Bishop of Lincoln’s Charge last week (at the end of the four-yearly residential conference for the clergy of the diocese) included the story of a group of musicians naturally taking its lead from the professional player who happened to be at the harpsichord rather than from the amateur Director of Music waving his arms about ineffectually in front of them.

His story embodied the difference between an imposed style for the leadership of a diverse community and leadership which is natural and recognised, between attempted dominance and the provision of a secure framework within which others can perform.

He was returning us to creative models for ministry in which a soloist’s gift is brought out by interaction with an audience and then a conductor’s gift is to bring and hold together the gifts of all - far cries from the caricature celebrity soloist in isolated glory or the maestro forcing his brilliance and personality on other performers.

I’ll wait to receive the two quotations he used and then post them here as well, because they are much more subtle than the pedestrian interpretations in the two paragraphs above.

While waiting to do that, I was prompted to look back four years to see how close his image is to ones which have been used in the diocese over the years and about which I blogged then at

The model of the conductor is actually only one variation on a theme which included the image of the producer of a pantomime which I used often when responsible for clergy in-service training and

was hawking round for fellow clergy an article from the journal Theology which used this image - each new pantomime grows out of a specific shared tradition which is made new that once - the director has a role equal to the actors in enabling both the rootedness in the tradition and the creativity needed for them to pull this off

and the image of the impresario which the Bishop of Grimsby was including in a range of images he was offering clergy

we can’t go on running the show, but we can take every opportunity to make sure an attractive variety of shows go on.

Meanwhile, we had just had distant relatives from Australia to stay and took them at sunset to the point on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds from which it is possible to see both the Humber Bridge and Lincoln Cathedral; they could see neither because of the haze but they have put this picture of the sunset up on their Facebook page.

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