There's as good a defence of Christian ministry as you're ever likely to read on the Daily Mail's website (yeah, I know, unlike me to think anything good could find its way there...!) It's by my friend George Pitcher and arises out of the killing of a parish priest in Gloucestershire recently. You can read it here.
Reflecting on the murder of John Studdards, George says: 'Christian ministry is about taking risks. The gospels demand it. Jesus Christ moved among the lowest of the low during his ministry, befriending and healing the mad, bad and dangerous to know. He spelled out that whatever his disciples did for the least in the world around them, they did for the Christ. And that’s true of today’s disciples, whether in lay or ordained ministry.'
And then he adds 'the dividing line between holiness and foolhardiness is so narrow as to be invisible'. That is a wonderful description of the nature of faith, the motive for mission, and a summary of our calling as witnesses for Christ. This is not about about taking risks because of bravado or because it gets us a reputation in the Christian ghetto. It's about walking faithfully alongside our Lord in the places he calls us to, with the people he draws alongside us.
George also calls us to focus on what matters and not be sidetracked by debates about women bishops and sexuality - or whatever our particular denomination or stream is tearing itself apart over - or by noises off generated at the shallow end of society by noisy atheists.
Our calling is to look at what Jesus did and do likewise. Full stop. It's advice worth heeding.