The primary condition for the effectiveness of the Church is the inseparable unity that the believer should have with Christ: I am the vine; you are the branches (The New Revised Standard Version, Jn15.5). All ministries in the Church, whether lay or ordained, spring from the relation of the faithful to Christ under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
This concept, which was the distinguishing feature of the Apostolic Church, somehow became weak in the course of time and the organization of the Church became functions in a hierarchy. The challenge of the Church today is to recapture that spirit in its ministry. The right way to achieve it is by incorporating this ideal in the training and formation of its personnel for the various ministries. The Spirit, to all in the Church, gives the gifts gratuitously. When choosing the ministry it is imperative to identify the gifts with which one is endowed with and his or her choice of ministry should be in tandem with the special gift with which he or she is endowed with.
The exercise of the gift being in a social milieu it is necessary that the ministries be first authorized. The discernment of the presence of gift in an individual is a tricky business and it has to be first approved by the Church. Then the incumbent should undergo the standardized training so as to achieve doctrinal conformity in the teaching of the faithful. Finally some form of authorization is absolutely necessary to ensure orderliness and doctrinal soundness of the teaching. The New Testament abounds in instances of public authorization.
The ministry of the Church had never been static. The mission of the Church has a contextual element in it and in keeping with the changes in the context the ministry takes on new forms to address the needs of the milieu. One of the most significant changes in England after the war is the influx of a large number of immigrants. The Asians, the Greeks, the Chinese and Afro-Caribbeans and the Arabs that move on our roads are British. But their cultural and religious identity with English heritage is virtually non-existent. One of the tasks that has unfolded as part of our mission is to go out into the wider community that Christ has sent to our land. The challenge of the lay and ordained ministry of the English Church today is to present Christ not only to the folks that congregate the four walls of our churches every week, but also to those who stay out side the periphery of the Church.
The parish-centered pattern of life that was part and parcel of English life some how has lingered so strongly in our imagination that we fail to see the reality of present day living. There seems to have happened a dislocation between the Church's concept of ministry and the reality of the lives of ordinary people. According to the Venerable Christopher Lowson:
The church we are dreaming of for the future is one in which we operate in areas larger than parishes - you might call them localities or zones - where resources can be shared more widely and lay and ordained ministers can work in a way that is not isolated and lonely,but can support and encourage each other, so that