Monday, December 14, 2009

Lay ministry

“The only kind of lay ministry which is worth encouraging is that which makes a radical difference in the entire Christian enterprise. To be truly effective it must erase any difference in kind between the lay and the clerical Christian. The way to erase the distinction, which is almost wholly harmful, is not by the exclusion of professionals from the ministry, as anticlerical movements have tended to do, but rather by the inclusion of all in the ministry. The expanded dictum is that in the ministry of Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither bond nor free, neither male nor female, neither layman nor cleric, but all are one in Christ Jesus.”—Company of the Committed, page 62

“The older idea was that the lay members were the pastor's helpers, but the new and vital idea is that the pastor is the helper of the ordinary lay members in the performance of their daily ministry in the midst of secular life. And always, the problem with which the members need the help of wise and compassionate pastors or teachers is that of how daily witness is to be made. Insofar as we really understand the strategy of the Christian revolution, we shall train our pastors for this highly specialized and imaginative task. It cannot be pointed out too clearly, therefore, that emphasis on the vocation of universal Christian witness, far from lowering the vision of the function of the pastorate, immensely heightens it...

“The universal ministry is a great idea, one of the major ideas of the New Testament, but the hard truth is that it does not come to flower except as it is nourished deliberately. Indeed the paradox is that the nourishment of the lay or universal ministry is the chief reason for the development of a special or partially separated and professionalized ministry. We cannot have an effective universal ministry of housewives and farmers and merchants simply by announcing it. It is necessary to produce it.”—Company of the Committed, page 63

<idle musing>
Would that the 50 years since he wrote this had seen a fruition of these ideas!
<idle musing>

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