Published by Rachel Noel on 15th September 2016

Reshaping the Mission of Methodism: A Diaconal Church Approach, edited by David Clark.

Reshaping the Mission of Methodism: A Diaconal Church Approach, edited by David Clark.

Church in the Market Place, 2010, 285 pages, ISBN 978-1-899147- 74-8, £10.00.

Reviewed by John Nelson

John Nelson reviewed this book for the Teal Trust. Here is a synopsis of his review (for the full review, visit

reshaping-the-mission-of-methodismThis is an important book not only for Methodists – clergy and laity – but also for other Christian denominations. David Clark is convinced that, if the future church is to have credibility and viability, it will need to be shaped by a different kind of ecclesiology. This is the diaconal model. This is one whose theology is kingdom community centred, which sees its mission as being the servant of that community and which regards its primary resource as the whole people of God in the world.

To equip the laity to be the servants of the kingdom community new forms of church leadership are needed. These are embodied in the roles of ‘servant leader’ and ‘community educator’. The latter necessitates leaders being trained to equip lay people to become community leaders within church and world.

The laity as the church’s primary missionary resource is paramount in the Diaconal Church and nowhere more strongly asserted than in relation to the world of work for which there is judged to be no chance of the mission of Methodism (or other Christian denomination) being fulfilled as predominantly the responsibility of its ordained ministry.

There are too few ministers available to shoulder such a major undertaking. Furthermore, many ministers have lost personal contact with the world of work beyond the church even if, as a first career, they were actively engaged in it. Far more important, however, is the fact that the mission of the diaconal church not only cannot be, but should not be the responsibility of the ordained ministry. It is the lay people who are the primary resource for the diaconal church.

Highly relevant to David Clark’s thesis of the laity as Methodism’s primary resource as (dispersed) disciples, is the chapter he contributed to MODEM’s book How to Become a Creative Church Leader (Canterbury Press, 2008).

John Nelson is Secretary of MODEM.

This review first appeared in MODEM Matters Issue 13 in October 2010

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