Summary: Discover how to bridge the gap between clergy and laity and restore the value and usefulness of God’s people
(Message title and Scripture passage taken from John Maxwell’s series, MAKE YOUR MOVE)
This morning’s message title could be better stated as “Let God’s People Move Back Up.” We’re not talking about promotion, but rather restoration, as we continue in our series on The Dynamics of Church. In this series, we are looking at how God designed His Church to function, and how the church can restore God’s original design.
Ed Silvoso said, “The Church will continue to resemble a World Cup final, where 22 exhausted soccer players in desperate need of rest are being watched by thousands of overweight spectators desperately in need of some exercise…. There is no way our "pros" can win this match by themselves-every player in the Church must be active and on the field!”
Ed Silvoso is pointing to a problem of God’s Church that separates the clergy from the laity. The clergy are those who are trained in seminary or apprenticeships, and the laity are those who are untrained ordinary Christians. But we do not see this separation in the Bible. We see in the Bible the division of labor, not separation of different classes of Christians.
We do not have Christians who set up and clean up at the bottom of the rung. The Christians who bring refreshment are next in rank. Then we have those who usher. The nursery workers are above the ushers. The teachers of children are higher up on the ministry ladder. Then we have the worship team members. And above them, you have the elders. And finally, on the top of the ministry ladder is the pastor.
If you hold to this view, you are putting yourself down and lifting others up without biblical support. You are devaluing yourself in God’s economy. You are reducing your usefulness to God. You are limiting how much God’s Church can have a positive influence in your life and in the lives of those in our community.
This morning, my hope is to allow God’s Word and Spirit to help God’s people move back up to the place God intended for His Church. Our text is 1 Peter 4:7-11.
You need to know that Peter, the author of this letter, was not seminary trained. Peter was a fisherman when Jesus called him to follow. But in Acts 4:13, the rulers, elders, the high priest and his family members were amazed at Peter and his abilities as a disciple of Jesus Christ. We read, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
Peter was talking to ordinary Christians, men and women who trust and follow Jesus, but had no special training for ministry. Peter identifies what ordinary Christians are capable of and responsible for.
First, all of God’s people are to pray continually. We see this in verse 7.
When I first came to this church, I divided up the responsibility of leading our prayer meetings among all who came to the prayer meeting. Some people said to me, “Isn’t leading the prayer meeting the job of the pastor?” Others told me that in their previous church experience, only the pastor prayed, and they simply agreed with what he prayed.
In Luke 18:8, Jesus tells us that when he returns, he will be looking to see who is praying. He will not just look at priests, pastors and elders. He will look at His entire Church, the ordinary Christians.
Peter gives only two criteria for those who would pray. Special training is not one of them. These criteria are having a clear mind and self-control. A clear mind is in contrast to a mind filled with doubt or anxiety. Doubt and anxiety makes true prayer impossible. True prayer requires faith, and neither doubt nor anxiety can co-exist with faith.
Self-control is in contrast to one who is controlled by externals such as television, telephone or the demands of others. Unless we schedule undistracted time for prayer, we will not pray.
When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, he gave them only four guidelines: Ask with a right view of God. If you have a wrong view of God, you will not ask. Once you have the right view of God, ask for God’s will for our lives. Once we know what God wants for our lives, we can ask God for what we need in order to do what God wants for us. For example, when God wants us to be a godly husband, we will need courage, self-control, love and forgiveness. Finally, ask God for protection from the unseen. There are unseen forces in this world from which God alone can protect us.
If God’s people are to move back up to God’s original design for His Church, ordinary Christians must pray. We must not substitute giving money, singing songs, listening to sermons for the privilege and power of prayer. We must not turn prayer over to those who are “professionals.”