Monday, April 15, 2013

Called to be a Bureaucrat

This is a post that has been rattling around my head for a long time, but I've been unable to articulate myself. So let's see how this goes.

I've been thinking a lot about my role and calling within the church recently. A number of people have asked if I am going to become a local preacher, or even enter the ministry. I must admit that I would hate to be a local preacher! I led a service a number of years ago, and really didn't enjoy it. It's just not me, I'm not an 'up the front' kind of person. And I have struggled to explain to people that I'm not ignoring a calling, or running from it. I honestly don't believe I have had that calling. I'm not going to say never, because I know that God may call me yet, but I feel my place is elsewhere.

It often seems to me that the church values 'The Call to Preach' as the only calling you can have. As a young person active in the Church, the obvious next step is doing Faith and Worship (the training you do to become a Local Preacher, that is someone who is able to preach, but isn't a Reverend). But we can be called to so much more.

I am a bureaucrat. Some would prefer to use the term 'Methodist Geek', a label I am also happy to wear. I really enjoy meetings. I love being at Conference, being part of the decision making structure. It is where I am happy (sometimes frustrated, despairing, ashamed but happy). I know there are others who hate it, find it a bind to the day to day work of a church. But the 'business side' of the church is important. And it's where I think I best serve the church. I feel my calling is to the bureaucracy. Where that will take me is anyone's guess (except God, I guess he knows).

I was reading Jill Baker (The Methodist Women in Britain President)'s blog just now, and I quote from that now.

 [Rev. Peter Baker] recounted a tale (legend?) about Sir Christopher Wren visiting the site of St. Paul's Cathedral, incognito, during its construction and asking one of the labourers what he was doing.  The boy answered, "I'm just carrying bricks" to which the great architect replied, "No, you're not, you're building a cathedral". (You can read the rest of her blog here)

Being involved in the business side of church can often feel like you are carrying bricks. Doing a lot of the ground work. I don't say this begrudgingly. I am not a great ideas man, but I am happy to support those who are, to put frameworks in place, work on policy and procedure to facilitate great projects. As well as a meetings man, I am a bit of a techy. Tech support is so often a thankless job. The band stand up the front a get the thanks after the service, while us techies are ripping up gaffer tape, coiling wires and packing away the speakers. And doing the business side can be the same. Very few people stop to thank the person who did the risk assessment, the budget, the form filling. And again, I don't to sound like I'm hard done by. I don't do what I do for praise and glory, I do it because it needs to be done, and it is where I can serve the church.

I just ask that people think more widely about callings people can have. Being a Techie can be a calling; being a bureaucrat is a calling; doing the flowers is a calling. And all callings are as important as each other.
So next time someone asking if I have thought about local preaching I will say 'Yes, I have thought about it, and I think God wants be to be a Bureaucrat.'


  1. Thanks Matt - MWiB is proud to be mentioned on your blog! Couldn't agree more about techies being a calling every bit as important as preachers, "if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?" (I Corinthians 14:8)

  2. Now this sounds like a calling to be a Church or Circuit Steward to me ;)
    Have to agree that there are many callings and all are needed.