On 19, Sep 2016 | In Laity | By Mitch
Inevitably, when I talked to church members about the mission of the local church, someone feels the burden of what must be done to actually be the church and in a wave of inadequacy they exclaim, “…but I am only laity.” In this context, “only laity” implies amateur, non-professional, unskilled, unworthy or incapable. It’s self- deprecating – and it’s a myth.
The laity must not feel apologetic or inadequate. They are not always well equipped, but are always Christ’s ambassadors. Fueled by the Holy Spirit, just as they are, and without apology, the laity witness, obey, love, lead and reach-out to one another with the full measure of Christ’s empowerment.
I credit Pastor Eugene Peterson for planting this thinking in me. He says it bluntly: “Where do all these Christians, who by definition are ‘new creatures in Christ’ … pick up this deprecating self-understanding? They certainly don’t get it from the Bible or the gospel. And certainly not from Jesus. They get it from the culture, both secular and ecclesial.” The Jesus Way, Eugene Peterson, p. 13.
No laity doubt or challenge the role of clergy, those blessed men and women who answer the call to full time service to the church. In partnership, laity share common ground with clergy. We are baptized to the same salvation. Together we form the priesthood of all believers, kingdom of priests and saints. These biblical phrases are not arrogant scriptural claims but are confessions of our mutual commitment to the Kingdom of God.
When Jeremiah complained to God, “…but I am only a boy” God’s response (paraphrased but still accurate) set him right, “Don’t say that. Do what I tell you. I am with you.” What more can we ask for? We laity should hear the same words from the same God when we exclaim, “I am only laity.”
Methodist teaching is plain, “The witness of the laity, their Christ-like examples of everyday living as well as sharing their own faith experiences of the gospel, is the primary evangelistic ministry through which all people will come to know Christ and The United Methodist Church will fulfill its mission.” – UMC Book of Discipline, ¶127
We laity are the Church, the body of Christ, empowered to carry on the business of our heavenly Father and live lives as directed by the Holy Spirit without excuses for our sufficiency. Christ says we are up to it. Why second guess him? You go laity!
The Installation Service for our ‘new’ District Superintendent Mark Statler will be held this Sunday, October 20th, at the Saint James UMC at 4pm. Please announce this to your churches and invite your congregations to come and share in this time of worship and fellowship. Bishop Schnase will be present to officiate the service. A meet and greet fellowship time will be held immediately following.