Thursday, 14 January 2010

Ministry In Secular Employment

When I describe my job I often say I am a vicar, even though I'm not, because people have no idea what a curate is. There are many different sorts of ordained person, and one title is 'Minister in Secular Employment' or MSE. My good friend Mike Rayner is a MSE and I asked him to explain what it means:

Lesley asked me to write something for the Bernwode Blog about ministry at work (sometimes called ministry in secular employment).   So here goes.  

All Christians have a ministry!   ‘All’ that really means is that all of us are called to represent Christ on Earth   It doesn’t mean that we are all called to be preachers, pastors, evangelists, or whatever is commonly associated with ‘ministry’.   But it does mean that we are all called to do something about the gospel as well as believe it.   For some of us our ministry is mainly to and with the people we live with: people in our ‘parish’ if you like.   For others of us – particularly those of us who spend much of our time away from home and at work - our ministry is mainly to and with the people we work with. 

I know that my ministry is mainly through and at my work (I work as a researcher in the Department of Public Health of the University of Oxford).   After a bit of battering on its door the Church of England has ‘officially’ recognised this ministry and I got ordained in the summer of 2007 (the same day as Lesley).   Being an officially-recognised minister at work is a tremendous privilege and I think more ministers at work should get the opportunity!  

Of course ordination is not for everyone but whether ordained or not we Christians who work need to think how we are going to minister there.   So what does a ministry at work involve?   Well lots of things really.   To find out more about what we do or try to do check out this website:   It suggests among other things that ministers at work:
  • make themselves available for chats with their work colleagues
  • support others at their place of work who need support
  • preach the gospel of salvation and transformation (if necessary using words)
  • see their work as important and do it in a way that builds the kingdom of God

Simple really?   Well perhaps not.   This is why ministers at work need to band together to discuss how to be more effective minsters.   The website above is for a tiny organisation designed specifically to help ministers at work (whether ordained or otherwise).   If you’d like to know more about ministry at work join CHRISM (you’ll get a quarterly newsletter and invitations to our twice yearly meetings (an annual conference in the summer and a reflective weekend in the winter – both well worth attending).  Or alternatively contact me at

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