A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Monday, July 01, 2013

Things for United Methodist Laity to Unlearn

Susan Engle, the Paducah District Lay Resource Leader of The Memphis Annual Conference is spot on in what she writes from the United Methodist Reporter. I only list what she believes the laity need to unlearn. You can read the specifics here.

1.  While our church leaders, Pastor, church staff, are responsible to give vision, direction and guidance, they are not charged with keeping us happy.  We are equally called to service in the Body of Christ, not only to be served.  We are partner in ministry, not consumers.

2.  The church building does not belong to us; it is an asset for ministry.  Our functions are important, and fellowship as believers is essential, but they are not the sole purpose of the building.

3.  Worship on Sunday is not entertainment, and we are not the audience.   Worship is a time for us to gather, hear God’s word, get filled up, and go in the power of the Spirit to change the world. 

4.  There are a lot more of us (laity) than there are of them (clergy).  Why did we ever decide sharing the Gospel was only for the ‘professionals’?
Well said, Susan... well said.


Anonymous said...

I think that is well said, too, and very true. But can I point out what one of the difficulties seems to be for some lay people? We know we each have been given a 'skill set' by God; He's prepared each of us for a particular purpose in His body. But if a local church does not already have a spot open for someone with that passion, it seems to be a foreign thought in the clergy's mind to equip that person and prepare the church for the expression of this new gift to the church. Instead, it seems, clergy is more likely to strongly encourage the person into a ministry that already exists inside the church, or hope that person goes to a different church. So then the lay person is left attempting to smile through an effort he has not been led to give, or faced with the dilemma of finding another church, or giving no effort at all (or going into a parachurch ministry). To see my point one may ask, for instance, in any given church, how are Spiritual gifts assessed for? And what is done with that information? What encouragement and tools are given for people to seek out what it is God is leading them to do in the body, and then joyfully work with them and equip them for their part? Susan

Allan R. Bevere said...


You are spot on! One of the tasks of the pastor and the ministry staff is to encourage people to use their gifts and use them to start new ministries if need be. As a pastor there are times when I must get out in front and lead, and at other times I need to get out of the way and let the laity do their thing.

Pastors need to free their laity to do ministry, not restrict it.

Sharp said...

I would add that one of the paradigms we need to break out of is the one that says the use of the gifts in the church must be done IN the church. If there's an overabundance of people suited to a particular function, there's no need to try to shoehorn them into one of the congregation's programs. We can send them out into local charities and NGOs to help.