We aim to serve God rather than serve organizations: - Colossians 3: v23-24 (NIV) "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, .... It is the Lord Christ you are serving."
We also want to set people free for God: - John 8: v32 (NIV) "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
to be the people they were created to be and to use the gifts, talents and skills that they have been entrusted with by God: - 1 Corinthians 12: v1-11 (NIV) "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good."
with recognition, support and encouragement
for the benefit of all: - John 13: v35 (NKJV) "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
All our work is built up on a foundation of faith, prayer and service, and we know that everyone also has a part to play, something to offer and something to value: - 1 Corinthians 12: v11 (NIV) "All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines."
We do not rely on other groups to give us authentication, recognition or legitimacy either, especially those that are essentially divisive and excluding: - Mark 9: v38-40 (NIV) “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us."
We don't hide behind canon, tradition or liturgy. We stand or fall by our love of God and the ministry it generates, and need no other validation: - Matthew 7: v15-20 (NIV) "You will know them by their fruits."
In Luke 17: v21, Jesus said, "....the Kingdom of God is (already now) amongst you...." We can all make it so and perhaps we would no longer be needed as an 'organization'.
Core OSJ (UK) Values
OSJ celebrates the following bible and faith based core Christian values:
1. love for all people as God's children and creation
2. respect for all people even if we disagree with their views or their life choices
3. traditional marriage
4. traditional family values
6. the sanctity of human life (protection of the unborn child, etc)
7. the good and responsible stewardship of the earth and all its resources
8. the good and responsible stewardship of God given gifts, talents and skills, including those general gifts of free will, love, faith and prayer
9. the protection of the poor, the hungry, the rejected, those without a voice who are denied justice
10. one church with Christ as its head, in the service of God, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, not defined by 'organization' but by faith and faith alone
11. the consistency of the Word of God in a changing world
12. the absolute power and authority of God - He is both the first and last word in all things.
The importance of the chaplain is they are a part of people's daily lives and routines. They are 'just there' rather than being hidden away in some church or office somewhere out of sight.
UK's Police Chaplaincy interim chairman Charles Nevin says the following about Chaplains in their newsletter (November 2019). He quotes from the Methodist church's definition of the work of the chaplain and then expands on the theme.
offers ministry beyond the walls - to where people are;
is an invited guest and not the host;
is vulnerable - not powerful;
is commissioned by our faith leadership and accredited by the host;
is an intentional presence - rather than gathering;
is an authentic expression of active faith - sharing in what God is doing in the world.
If we unpack that definition and apply it to our own work, we can see clear parallels with the pattern of our own ministry.
We go beyond the confines of our places of worship and find ourselves grounded and challenged in the reality of everyday life and the pressures that the men and women of the police service feel and experience every day.
Quite rightly we have no power and we are in every sense servants to those whom we serve, but that servanthood is both vulnerable and empowering.
We walk alongside listening to stories and sharing journeys, but we are also called to recognise and confront injustice whenever we see it.
The prophetic element of our calling to speak out for others is a vital but often the most challenging, and it speaks of our own vulnerability. We also embody faith in the presence of a secular society but also in a climate where people are searching for meaning and a sense of self-worth.
The richness of our religious diversity is our greatest strength when irrespective of our faith tradition we are not in competition but recognising the image of God in all people. Chaplaincy is not so much taking God to the front line, but rather disclosing his presence in the toughness of life and living.'
This definition really highlights the value and importance of the work of the Christian chaplain, a role which is significantly different to the role and work of the priest.
That fact is that not all priests make good chaplains, and not all chaplains make good priests. They are quite individual ministries which may include elements of both.
Whilst we appreciate that those in religious or faith communities would prefer to and do receive ministry from those of their own background, there are many who are in need but have no one to turn to. It is this particular group that OSJ (UK) is interested in supporting. This is why we also work in hospitals, prisons and with the emergency services as well as in the greater community.
Our role is to be available to minister to all those who feel they have no one to turn to or who feel they have been abandoned or rejected by the churches they once belonged to.
The chaplain's role is a perfect model for us to adopt along side our role as priests, ministers and pastors, especially since we don't come with any denominational bias or agenda. Our approach is to meet people wherever they are in their spiritual journey and minister appropriately to their need.
We know the importance of welcoming people into the Christian family rather than 'a denomination'.
Ministry and you
We believe in participants, not passengers:
As a Christian, you should be being used. The church is meant for participants not passengers - that is what busses are for.
Everyone has some kind of ministry to offer, without which the church and the community it serves will be made less and less complete.
Also, there are no such things as 'great ministries' or 'lesser ministries', they are all equally necessary and carry the same weight.
For the most part Christian ministry will be 'in passing', almost unconsciously dealing with those things that are needful on a day to day basis, and that is something that everyone can be involved with without any formal training or qualification.
These things will often appear quite ordinary and routine but are actually quite necessary, and it is real ministry without which the church would come to a grinding standstill. There is often no 'official' organisation, it mostly seems to organise itself and just happens. It often brings some kind of strange order where there has previously been chaos, and any attempts to bring it under formal control or to 'improve' it usually causes upsets and makes things a lot less effective.
This, if you have to give it a name, is the church's 'ministry support team' in action, the essential group that 'gets on and does' because it has both faith and love, and an instinctive sense of communal purpose and direction.
OSJ (UK) has adopted this as its membership model simply because it works.
Anyone who joins OSJ (UK) automatically is a member of the Order's Ministry Support Team (MST) and this is open to all Christians, even if they are also members of other Christian communities. Joining the OSJ (UK) Ministry Support Team is simple, quick and easy.
OSJ (UK) MST members are the people that enable 24/7 ministry and without whom the work of the Christian community would quickly stop.
MST members are the life blood of the Order, (especially when it comes to prayer), and are the hands, feet, heart and voice of God on the front lines of daily life.
It would be quite wrong to underestimate or underappreciate this work they do. Without it there would be no Order.
There are occasions however where some official or formal authentication is required regarding some forms of ministry.
In the early church this was often demonstrated or confirmed by the laying on of hands and commissioning.
It didn't mean that these people were super-Christians, in fact they were often quite ordinary and flawed, they were just set aside for particular (and often difficult) roles.
That model continues in many churches today. OSJ (UK) uses this model too.
OSJ (UK)'s Ministry Team is made up of those whose work is perhaps a little more sensitive and comes under safeguarding rules.
These people are no different to anyone else in the OSJ (UK) community and are not to be thought of as being special or privileged or flawless or more gifted.
The most obvious differences will be that members of the Ministry Team require police/CRB checks and come under much closer supervision and direction by the Order's bishops and the Order's Executive Council.
(Added to that and not generally seen, the OSJ (UK) Ministry Team application process is highly detailed and complex, requires full disclosure, several interviews, supporting documentation and references, and a probationary period.) OSJ (UK) has a legal obligation to ensure effective safeguarding.
In practice, all our priests/ministers/pastors have to be members of the Ministry Team to comply with safeguarding requirements but being a part of the Ministry Team isn't just restricted to clergy.
Non-ordained members with particular giftings such as community chaplains, liturgists, eucharistic ministers, etc., are also able to be part of the Ministry Team. It also includes those undergoing training, those either on the Deacon's course or heading for the priesthood.
There is a common misconception that being called to ordination is the ultimate recognition of one's faith. Well for the record, it isn't. It's a complete myth.
Let me assure you that without exception everyone is called to their own special form of ministry by God, and that 'ordination' is just one of many forms of calling - all equally valuable, necessary and just as important.
There are elements to be found in all forms of ministry that reflect the communal priesthood of all church members.
Not only that but there is no necessity to be 'ordained' in regard to most Christian ministry, or to be 'authorised' in some way. Ministry is and should always be a simple and natural response of faith and love. It is definitely not about personal power, prestige, control, 'being qualified', authorised or having a title.
There is nothing 'magical' about being ordained - it confirms what already exists rather than it 'giving power to'. In truth, there isn't great deal more you can do once ordained that you couldn't already do before, although there seems to be a lot more paperwork involved.
Those who are ordained will tell you it is rarely what they thought it would be. The clerical collar is nothing more than an invitation to a conversation about life and faith and holds no power in itself, and nor should it. It is no guarantee of 'ministry' either.
If you didn't have ministry before being ordained, wearing a clerical collar generally won't make things any different.
Ministry is all around us and we all have something to give and receive. Ministry is for all, by all, and in God alone.
Regardless of rank, title, qualification or position, all members of OSJ (UK) carry equal status (so don't expect any special treatment if you happen to be ordained).
All OSJ (UK) members have their own God given mix of gifts, talents and skills, all are called to serve God and the Christian community in some way, and are all equally needed.
Membership is all about serving Christ and community, not servicing your own needs or ego.
Do I have ministry?
You bet you do. Everyone has some kind of God given ministry, and only they can do it. Without it everyone loses out. Start by being the person God intended you to be.
The Order of St James (UK)
Serving Christ and community.
Faith and works.