Friday, November 7, 2008

Clergy and Laity

R. Paul Stevens writes some helpful thoughts on reclaiming a biblical perspective on vocation, work and ministry. Over the years we've created a clergy and laity divide in the church, and clergy has come to apply to the following things:

(1) A vicarious function - Service or ministry is applied not just on behalf of the people, but sometimes instead of the people.
(2) The ontological difference - A person becomes a priest, e.g. via ordination.
(3) The sacramental difference - The priest is the one able to offer the sacraments to others, e.g. Communion, Weddings, etc.
(4) The professional status - The priest is seemingly the only one qualified to do the work of minsitry. (The Other Six Days, p. 31).

Clergy should never mean one is more entitled to do the work of God, or is meant to fulfill the mission of God on behalf of the people. Laity actually means 'the people of God', and so actually refers to the whole community of faith. Clergy merely fulfill a different function within the mission that the church is called to.

How does this work practically in the church? The minister is not the only one who cares for the congregation! The minister is not the only one who can preach, teach or pioneer. In fact the very idea of calling this person, 'the minister' kind of assumes the other people are not 'ministers' which again is false.

Its time to rewrite the future of the church... All people are ministers, and while some may enter training to be more equipped to fulfill the roles that they will one day have, all are called to make a difference in the ministry of Jesus.

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