In meeting this past First Day, I started working on the similarities and differences between ministry and pastoral care. My thoughts broadened to consider the entire picture of life in the Spirit. Six “areas” emerged. They were: ministry, pastoral care, action, faith, worship, and community.
Having identified these areas, I found myself giving them definition and/or function:
Ministry is the work of opening to yourself or others, ways of living into the Spirit. It can take the form of words or actions. One of Quakerism’s radical concepts is that we are all recipients of God’s wisdom and are able to share it. I have had the unsettling experience of giving a message in meeting for worship only to have a Friend inform me at the rise of meeting that I was speaking to myself. Ministry is not always directed outward.
Pastoral care is the act of helping to meet the needs, spiritual or physical, of others.
Action is the way ministry and pastoral care are put into motion in our lives and in the world.
Faith is the “driver” for the first three. It allows us to lift the veil of unknowing, to see what is possible. It allows us to move ahead and to know that a way forward will become apparent. Faith allows us to see possibilities that we would otherwise ignore or be unaware of. Sometimes action leads to the growth of faith; sometimes action springs from faith.
Worship is the way we communicate with the Divine, and the Divine with us. Worship helps us build faith. The more we are able to worship, the richer our lives become. Ministry, pastoral care, action and faith all take on new, more whole purpose in worship.
Community is the structure that supports our work, both individually and corporately, to bring our lives into closer alignment with a life lived wholly in the Spirit.
None of these is independent of the others. Together they comprise an ecology of the spirit.