Role Of The Laity
We can understand the role of the Church as demonstrating and spreading the kingdom of God. However, when we understand it from this point we run into one major problem. Whose job is it?
Somewhere between A.D. 33 and the present, “minister” moved both grammatically and theologically from a verb (a thing done) to a noun (a person doing it). What was originally a function of the church became a station in the Church. Paul’s letter to Ephesus is the best illustration of this Ephesians 4
Lay Ministry In The Church:
1. Jesus valued the laity.
2. The Apostle focused on lay leadership.
Clement of Rome was the first to use the term lay man. He taught that the laity should always be the focal point of ministry.
Spiritual motivations: motivation is more important than method. Given the proper motivation, the church will discover valid methods and means for accomplishing its mission. The most important task of the church is to link god with human life, and human life with God, through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
People priority- the gospel was meant for people, and the church’s ministry was divinely ordained to serve people. Jesus ministry was people –centered. Everything Jesus did had the object of aiding and bettering some person’s life. Good administration is not the psychological manipulation of people with a view to reaching statistical objectives. Good administration should be related to the spiritual growth of people
Ministry of the Laity
Part of our work, to a very large degree, involves interacting with and serving the members of our congregation. Therefore, we need a true theology of the laity.
The Bible affirms the “priesthood of the believer” which asserts that every member of the church is directly responsible to Christ, who is the “head of the Church
The term “layman” is used to distinguish the role of other church members from the role of the pastor and staff as a non-vocational ministry, nothing more, and nothing less.
The layman has become the reserve force in many churches. The doctrine of the “universal church” and an emphasis on the principles of Ephesians 4 need renewed emphasis in some church situations. Every Christian should claim the ministry of Christ as their own as their “reasonable service” (Romans 12:1)
Historical Insights Regarding the Laity
The book of Acts reveals that the entire congregation performed the ministry of the early church. In a sense, all members of the early church were layman, and all were ministers (servants, diaconoi) of the Lord. The designators of “clergy” and “laity” were foreign in the early church. The distinction began when the church began the process of “institutionalizing”. The leadership of the church culminated in monarchial episcopacy. During the middle ages all ceremonial functions were reserved for the clergy, as it became a sacerdotal office.
The Protestant Reformation renewed the principle of the “priesthood of the believer”. As a result the importance of the laity was once again recognized. In fact, the laity who had revolted against the corrupt practices of the clergy led many of the reform efforts leading to the Reformation. Many of monastic movements were composed largely by laymen who desired to leave dedicate lives, uncorrupted by the world.
The Layman and the Church
Laymen need to take their responsibility for ministerial service seriously. The great burden of the pastor and staff is in motivating members to actively involve themselves in real, vital ministry for the church. If this is to happen, laymen must interpret their work in light of the “big picture” of the Kingdome of God and within the Christian community as a whole. He or she must understand that their work is part of a great calling.
Laymen should seek for ways of expressing and utilizing the spiritual giftedness provided by the Lord.
Laymen are the church’s best representatives to the world because they are out in it each and every day because of work, shopping, community involvement, etc. Through the laity there should exist an uninterrupted dialogue between the church and the world.
Christian Education For The Laymen: 2 Peter 3:17-18
When you look at the number of schools, books, computer software and other resources that we have available to us it seems almost impossible for the church to have a large abundance of biblical illiterates.
God’s people are led astray sometimes by the error of the wicked and sometimes by the error of God’s own leaders. Every Christian should be a theologian, not in a technical sense, but in the sense of straight thinking about vital truths.
If Christianity is to be a dynamic in society, it must have a responsible churchmanship. Instead of enjoying little bits of theological expertise of the clergy, “laymen must cultivate a theological outlook on the world
One of the problems within the laity is that we have loads of good intentions… but good intentions are not good enough. What happens is that there is a great disparity between our knowledge and our inspiration.
An informed people are a confident people. Theological concern on the part of laymen would strengthen the work of the minister.
Becoming: John 1:12
The Christian has an amazing privilege; we have the right to become children of God. The Christian life begins with believing and it continues with becoming. However becoming what God expects is costly business. There is no magic in becoming an effective layman. Such a commitment of life has to be cultivated with persistent care. Christian Growth is a continuous process of education and discipline.
No Christian can grow unless he reads. Franklin Segler states,” The problem is not a lack of literacy but waste of literacy.” Giving the numerous opportunities we have here for learning it seems that we take what is a blessing for granted. The true layman fails to honor God when he/she refuses to educate themselves.
Anything that doesn’t will inevitably deteriorate.
Things about while on their jobs…
Franklin Segler The Christian Layman Broadman Press 1964 Nashville Tenn
The Laity and Their Leisure:
The word “leisure” in the Greek is the word “schola” from which we derive our word “school.” This word evolved into our English language from the French “leiser” which means to be permitted. We have transformed the meaning of leisure time.
We have abdicated the control of our leisure time to external forces. We kill time or fill it with second jobs, creature pleasures, adult toys, and assorted time-waisters.
For the Christian, however, time and its stewardship must be viewed from a different perspective. How many have given their life to Christ? Now we say we have given our life to Christ, but what is our life? Our life is time! We view it this way; our life is in His hands but not always our time. I am not advocating that all of your time be spent in prayer or involved in ministry. David Haney, in his book, the idea of the laity, states that the most Christ like use of some free time often is absolute idleness. Jesus often wither drew from the crowds just to rest, and many times He urged His disciples to do the same. A much-needed investment of leisure time is being alone with yourself. When you really think about, how often are you alone? I am talking about when you are not turning on the radio, flipping on the TV or grabbing a book.
As a layman… the problem is not time…it is better management of our time.