Total Common Ministry
An Inclusive Ministry Model
Christ Church is a Total Common Ministry (TCM) congregation. TCM is a collaborative form of congregational ministry grounded in abundance: abundance of gifts and abundance of persons formed and trained to support the ministry of all the baptized. Each baptized follower of Christ is called and empowered to do the ministry to which he or she has been called, each with a particular charge, and dependent on each other. Some are called to ordained ministries of oversight and administration of the sacraments. Together, the ordained and those called, but not ordained, serve in the mutual ministry of all the baptized.
Although initial discussion began on 2004, the Christ Church journey to Total Common Ministry didn’t begin until 2008, after a year of congregation study and reflection. Since then, three have been ordained as priests and one as vocational deacon. Clergy, together with commissioned lay persons called by the congregation, form the Ministry Support Circle. All serve without compensation in an open-ended commitment that assumes renewed congregational discernment every four to five years. Roles within the Circle will change over time as it expands and/or needs of the congregation change. The clergy are designated “local priests” by the Bishop, and their responsibilities are defined by national and local canons of the church. The Circle works in tandem with the Bishop’s Committee (BC).
The BC is chaired by the senior warden, appointed by clergy, a people’s warden elected by the Committee, and seven members elected by the congregation at the annual meeting in January. The BC role is governance, including management responsibilities such as financial and property oversight, and leadership responsibilities such as long-range planning in partnership with the Circle.
The Christ Church congregation is engaged in discernment to call new people to the Circle. Some will be called to lay positions, some to ordained ministry. Some presently serving in the Circle will step back as those newly called complete their education and training in a three to five year formation process.
TCM theology may be simply stated: individually living the baptismal covenant through ministry. Every congregant, young or old, rich or poor, introvert or extrovert, has a ministry that supports the work of the church. In Ephesians, Paul uses the image of the body for the church. Early churches organized themselves to discern, equip, support and oversee people in the ministry to which they were called. They selected people from their congregation to be presiders, preachers, teachers, administrators and deacons. They trusted that the gifts and resources needed by the community of faith, whether large or small, were already present through the work of the Holy Spirit. The TCM model of ministry simply reflects the promise of Jesus that believers will be accompanied by the Holy Spirit and Paul’s explication of that promise assure every community of faith that the Holy Spirit will provide the resources needed to live out their baptismal vows.