Possibly the greatest tragedy in the life of the Kingdom has been the division that was created between clergy and laity. The Scriptures are clear, God expects that everyone will be a witness for Him, making disciples of others as they go about their business. There are certain tasks that are singled out for some as God gives specific gifts to the church, but we are all called to minister. Unfortunately, we have bought into what some have called the 1700 year old myth the laity pay while clergy minister. The person that stands behind the pulpit is not the only minister of the church. In fact, although we give him that title, he is not the minister, but the equipper of ministers. It is the congregation that is called to be ministers. The pastor is challenged with equipping the congregation for ministry. The church needs to hold the pastor accountable for doing this. If he is not equipping those in the congregation for ministry then he is not doing his job. Too often we, the pastors, fall into the trap of thinking that we are the only ones that can do the ministry of the church. No one else can or is willing to do it. Sometimes this is somewhat self-serving because it gives us a sense of being indispensable. But we are not indispensable. If we were not around someone would do it.
Pastors must take up the mantel of training, not doing. This does not mean that the pastors sit back in the ivory towers giving instructions to all those who come their way as to what they should do. The role of the pastor is to equip the saints. The saints need to see what the pastor is doing and the pastor is to help them know how to do it well. The pastor should never do anything that would be considered ministry without taking a mentoree with him. Along the way the pastor should take second chair and the person whom he is mentoring should carry the ball. This is the way that we learn and this is the way that the church will move forward.
The saints must expect and demand that they be prepared. All too often it is the expectations on both sides of this equation that are at fault. The saints expect that they have done their job when they provide the financial resources to pay for a full time staff. They expect that their role now is to observe and some times critic the job of the pastoral ministers as they fulfill the roll of ministry in the church. Somehow the saints must catch a vision for their involvement in ministry and demand that the pastoral team equip them to do ministry. After all, it is their mandate to be involved in the ministry of the church. They are not mere spectators, but fully engaged participants.
Each should do exactly what God has called them to do. Pastors should teach and prepare the saints for ministry. Saints should be actively involved in ministry. If either party to this equation does not do what they are called to do then it does not work. We wonder why the church has not been as effective in evangelizing as it should. We wonder why the church is losing ground as the population of the world expands. Mainly, it can be attributed to the way that we have operated over the last decades. We have fallen into the trap of believing that a paid clergy will get the job done and that the roll of the laity is to observe and applaud the awesome work of those called into full time vocational ministry. We now know that that does not work and it is not God’s plan for the expansion of His Kingdom. It has never been. Each, the pastors and the saints, has a roll and if they do it the world will be changed.