I spent some time at the dentist this morning and it helped crystallise a dilemma that I have. Is the minister a 'professional'? My dentist is. She is smartly dressed in a customised dentist's uniform and calls me Mrs Hillebrand. She offers me expert advice and treatment. Her manner is what we call professional.
Part of me itches to be a minister like she is a dentist. But if I am honest with myself, this is because she has a barrier between herself and me. The relationship is strictly professional. The relationship is not personal. I relate to the dentist, not to the human being.
How much easier it would be to keep that barrier at church. To be the expert theologian and church manager/ leader. To wear a uniform that sets me apart. To do only what is in a job description. To separate myself from the pain and politics.
I think we are very confused in our expectations of ministers. We want the professional and separate, but we also want the fellow human being, the fellow traveller on the spiritual journey.
The dentist does not want my advice about treating my teeth - we don't have 'every member dentistry' like we have 'every member ministry'. And perhaps it is this that is the tipping point. We choose between an elite minister and the facilitator of community ministry.