I was in a situation this week where i was taking the lead role in a group planning an act of worship. when i was making coffee beforehand, one of the other participants in that group – a minister who I’ve not had anything to do with up until this point – asked a number of questions that were, quite obviously, checking out my suitability for this task. i have no problem with that. it was an important act of worship, he had a proprietorial responsibility in the situation, and the decision to ‘bring me in’ had been made by others, not by him.

in response i ran through the normal checklist… my degree in theology, my formation for ministry, my 19 years of working with the church in different shapes of ministry, my post grad study, etc. etc. I know my credentials are up to scratch, my cv is perfect for this project, and it rolled off my tongue on demand. he was convinced.

i was so annoyed with myself afterwards. While i would be lost without these things, they aren’t the credentials that give me the ‘right’ to do alternative worship at all, or the right to be invited into people’s lives and spaces at sacred moments. nothing gives me the right. i have not earned this privilege.

i have to come up with better responses to these questions.


  1. Blair

    hmmm… I reckon you’re right, no-one has the right. But equally Cheryl, while you may not have earned this priviledge, it’s entrusted to you because people are ready to trust you, because you’ve done the hard work over many years. That includes the formational component of having to deal with degrees in theology, and working in the church, and post-grad study. All that has contributed to you being the person that you are ;; trusted, not necessarily an expert, but trusted.

  2. Cheryl

    thanks blair, but my issue is that people hear the degree in theology and need to know no more. I am so grateful i have done the study – and the rest – but they are not the most important thing that i bring to this ministry. they are not the things that enable me to do what i do.

  3. craig mitchell

    i’m glad you’re asking these questions. it would have been interesting to find out what he wanted to know and why, wouldn’t it. an opportunity for conversation to maybe help change his views. but then you’d have to want to bother to do that! and is it worth it! I wonder what the alternative is?? “trust me” “wait and see” “the synod trusts me”…..? i have no idea. it’s sad that you have to keep proving yourself and even involuntarily feel that you have to do so. actually, i’ve realised that i’ve been starting my youth ministry courses with a similar justification because i no longer seem to be the trendy youth worker (mmmm… did I ever….?)

    a good insight you’ve given me though, how to shift the focus from expertise to trust, and perhaps to mutual trust. ie. willingness to take a journey together.

    is this a better challenge than to find that you’re in the position where people automatically see you as the expert?

    of course, you’re entirely right, worship leadership has become the domain of experts with the right qualifications…. (lucky I’m helping to train them! ha!)

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