Reading the Theology of Colin Gunton
Book Review: The Theology of Colin Gunton edited by Lincoln Harvey

Hauerwas on the Essential Task of Ministry: Speaking Christian

This week I accepted a call to be the minister of Belle Vue Baptist Church, Southend. After three years of ministerial formation at Regent's Park College (and another four years of theological education at King's College London before that), I will be ordained in September as a Baptist minister. We are in the process of packing up and saying goodbyes as we prepare to leave Oxford, where we've lived for the last two years.

I've been reading some words from Stanley Hauerwas in a recent address given to those about to enter ministry in the Mennonite church. He begins with wondering why on earth anyone would want to be a minister today because:

The lack of clarity about what makes Christians Christian, what makes the church the church, and continuing ambiguity in our diverse denominations about ordination itself should surely make anyone think twice about becoming a minister. Moreover the lack of consensus about what it might mean for anyone to act with authority in our society and the church cannot help but make those of us who are not ministers wonder about the psychological health of those who tell us they are called to the ministry.  

He goes on to say that the essential task of a ministry is

is to be a teacher. In particular, you are called to be a teacher of language ... I think the characterization of the challenges facing those going into the ministry is the result of the loss of the ability of Christians to speak the language of our faith. The accommodated character of the church is at least partly due to the failure of the clergy to help those they serve know how to speak Christian. To learn to be a Christian, to learn the discipline of the faith, is not just similar to learning another language. It is learning another language.   

This is not a new thought from Hauerwas, but it is a good reminder of what ministry is all about.


Jason Goroncy

Congratulations Andy. That's great news.

Andy Rowell

Congrats, Andy on the pastoral position. You will be a fine teacher I'm sure. Reminds me of quote from Peter Storey.

"Reclaim the Teaching Office. Anything else I say tonight actually depends on this. I have a friend back home whose name is George Irvine, and this very fine pastor says, “If you want to get your congregation moving into mission, you’ve got to do three things: the first is to teach. When you’ve done that, then for goodness sake, teach. That’s the second thing. And thirdly, teach!” This has been my experience."

Peter Storey, "Rules of Engagement: Faithful Congregations in a Dangerous World," Inaugural Lecture for Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams, Jr. Chair of the Practice of Christian Ministry at Duke University Divinity School. Storey taught at Duke from 1999-2006.


All the best for your move and future, Andy.


Great news Andy. Hope you and the congregation manage to do each other good - then go do Southend good.


Congratulations and every blessing to all of you as you step into the future. Exciting times!

Julie Aylward

Congratulations and praying God's blessing on you all as you begin this new chapter of life.


Good luck Andy, Hannah and Kirsten. We will miss you in church on Sundays. I have absolutely no doubt that you will do well in your new church, Oxford's loss is Southend's gain! Thanks again for your support, it really meant a lot during a pretty tough time.
God bless you all, Louise

Paul Fromont

Congratulations Andy. All the very best to the three of you.


Graeme Clark

Congratulations Andy. Hope your move from college to church goes well.

Hoped we might have persuade you to come to Scotland!

warmest regards,



Great news, Andy!

Gary Manders

Congratulations on your appointment as Baptist minister. Every blessing!

Rev Andrew Mumford

Been reading your blog for a while now, always enjoy it.Looking foward to meeting you when you settle here.
Andrew Mumford ( in fellowship at Avenue Baptist,Southend, on chaplaincy team at Southend Hospital).

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