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Okay, I admit it. I can’t stand the terms.

When you even speak of clergy and laity, you are implying that Christianity has a social caste system. There are the professional Christians and the ordinary Christians.

Ugh.

There are points in Scripture where some differentiation is made. For example, in Ephesians 4:11-12, Paul said God gave us “pastors and teachers for the training of the saints in the work of ministry to build up the body of Christ.”

Contrary to most of the indicators today, the Bible says the laity (saints) are to do the work of ministry. Most of the ministry should not be in the hands of pastors, but in the hands of the church members.

Unfortunately, we often reverse the biblical truth. We expect ministry to be done by the pastors and staff. Here are eight indicators of that reality.

  1. “Pastor, will you ask the blessing for the meal?” If an “ordinary” Christian voices the blessing, the food will immediately turn into strychnine and maggots.
  2. “The pastor needs to be on call to counsel our members.” When I was a pastor, people stopped coming to me because they told me I made them feel worse.
  3. “After all, pastor, that’s what we pay you to do.” For many Christians, ministry is pay as you go. You pay the pastor and the pastor goes.
  4. “You need to host that missionary, pastor, because you are in the same line of work.” I thought all Christians were in the same line of work.
  5. “Here’s someone you need to visit, pastor.” If a non-pastor Christian visits them, the people will experience boils and locusts.
  6. “I saw our pastor at a football game. Pastors are not supposed to act that way.” You are exactly right. It’s in Hezekiah 4:19: “Pastors are not to get excited or yell in competitive sports.”
  7. “I saw our pastor at the beach. He was in a swim suit!” “No, please don’t say it’s so. He could not have fallen that low.”
  8. “Pastor, I don’t think my neighbor is a Christian. You need to visit them and share the gospel.”  Matthew 28:19 is clear:Go, therefore, only the select few of you who are ordained and have the title of reverend, and make disciples of all nations.”

I’m certain you have heard one or more of these sentences, or sentences similar to these. They are all indicators we have a long way to go before we have truly unleashed the people of God to do the work of ministry.

Let me hear from you.

Thom Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources and the co-author of Transformational Church: Creating a New Scorecard for Congregations.
Talk about it...

Mark Fleming

commented on Jul 18, 2016

Been that person who felt it was the Paster's responsibility to reach the loss until I myself have now become a Deacon leader. Wow, was I wrong...again! Glad to be part of the ministry.

Abraham J. Meintjes

commented on Jul 19, 2016

Part of the challenge in and from the congregation seems to stem from what happens in Seminary and what then happens, or does not happen, in the congregation. Unless 1 Cor 12, Romans 12:5-8 and Eph 4:4-14 is properly taught, the Members of the Body will not understand or function in Scripture to salt, light and yeast into all of society unto the ends of the earth. Pastor will be and remain the (only) one that works (himself to a break-down or stand-still to the ultimate and increasing detriment of the Kingdom of God on this earth). Our societies in general reflect this critical inadequacy.

Michael Barrett

commented on Jul 19, 2016

I told one of my elders as pastor I needed to be more involved in the day-to-day operation of the church. He said I cold help mow and weed eat and there was plenty of painting and other work to do. Yep.

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