It saddens me that with the passage of time the name Findley Edge is less known, much less his contribution to the crucial challenge of mobilizing “the laity” for active ministry. Edge was a theologian (and long time professor of practical theology) yet he could communicate so clearly and passionately to the person in the pew that he inspired thousands to find and pursue their personal ministries in the Kingdom.
I was prompted to reflect again on my professor, mentor and colleague as I wrote some stewardship lessons for my church. One lesson was on spiritual gifts, another was “Finding Our Personal Ministries.” I was reminded of something Edge always said about both subjects: “It’s NOT that hard!” Edge’s admonition was, first of all, to quit trying to force biblical language on folks (my paraphrase, of course) in terms of the various lists of gifts mentioned. Second, he said, encourage people to find what feels right and brings them most fulfillment. With regard to the latter, he often quoted his friend and colleague Gordon Cosby, who said that when you find the ministry to which God is calling you, you will have a sense of “Eureka! This is it!” In so many words, Edge (and Cosby) were entreating us to help people trust their guts! Edge emphasized that we find our ministries at the intersection of our spiritual gifts and our calling. Using words to define the whole experience is secondary (or less!).
Edge went on to say that when we find the ministry to which God calls us (and for which we are gifted), along with the feeling of “This is it” two other things occur: we will be able to visualize ourselves doing this ministry. We will find handles for the ministry, specific places to get involved. Third, we will get so excited about our place of ministry that we will want to talk about it with others. We don’t talk about assignments or tasks because someone has given them to us, but because our ministries are so important to us and fulfilling.
Pastors, staff ministers and nominating committee chairs (or whatever we call them these days) would do well to remember Edge’s comment when we seek to staff church ministries and enlist new folks for service: it’s not that hard! Instead of getting tangled in reinterpretation—even various “inventories”—focus on the theological truth that all are called, all are gifted to pursue our callings, and God has a place to use those gifts. Let the rest fall in place.
I want to make a bold statement: much of Edge’s work is just as relevant today as when written decades ago. After reading Quest for Vitality for Religion, The Greening of the Church, or The Ministry of the Laity feel free to challenge me!
Date posted: Tuesday, December 16th, 2008 11:28 am | Under category: Uncategorized
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