Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The convenience of the clergy

I think about the stats concerning pastors and I am left surprised. I'm not surprised that they left the pastorate but how they lasted as long as they did. How can we not expect someone (or a very few) to carry all of the responsibilities that God meant for the entire body to carry out. Every believer is called and expected to be an active minister to the body. I'm not talking about just stacking chairs and vacuuming carpets. I'm talking about teaching, encouraging, praying, rebuking, exhorting, correcting, preaching, baptizing, evangelizing, showing hospitality, holding others accountable, shepherding, overseeing, sharing burdens and visiting the sick. These are all things that the pastor is expected to do on his own. After all, he gets paid for it, right? Wrong! The distinction between the clergy and laity is not a biblical distinction.

This is one reason why simple church is so difficult. There is no single person expected to take on all those jobs and drive themselves in to the ground doing so.  Therefore everyone is going to get their hands dirty.  Every person is not just invited but expected to work as the Spirit leads.  The pastors can focus on shepherding and overseeing.  The evangelists can be looking for ways to more effectively preach the gospel to the local community.  Those that are hospitable can be busy organizing and throwing get togethers.  We don't have to wait on an appointment to meet with "the man of God" to receive counsel on our marriage when it's on the rocks.  Everyone shares our burden.  Everyone prays and advises as he/she is lead.  Everyone is the man/woman of God.  No longer can we be wallflowers and pew warmers who only get our "fill" on Sunday.  We each have to play our part in the body.

I've seen pastors time and time again stand at their pulpit and beckon the members of Christ's body to get involved.  Many don't but some will.  I've often wondered why.  Surely the main cause is the sinful hearts of those who are content with their complacency.  There is no excuse other than that.  Still, I also think that the institution itself has played a part in leading the masses into this indifference to service.  When we pay a guy to do something, that is his job.  He is the professional.  Everyone else "serves" by paying his salary and we get to reap the benefits of all of his hard work.  Isn't that convenient?  Well it is, at least, for everyone except the guy up front.

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