bits from bob....
The Reality of our Clergy System
by Robert J. Young
©, 2003, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]
We are at a moment in history of unparalleled opportunity in the world...perhaps a second fullness of time...the spread of gospel is at times and in certain places unbelievable. Are we ready? Will we, like the foolish maidens of Jesus' parable, find ourselves running for oil? What is required to be prepared?
Some say we need new and better methods of interpreting the Bible. Others seek to "free the women." Some would revitalize worship, others would forge closer alliances with the denominations in systems already shown to be bankrupt and powerless. Some question the value of restoration. Still others have some new area of emphasis or focus which will provide us the long-awaited panacea--groups, families, youth--the list seems almost endless.
A more glaring problem than any of these exists in plain view. Even while decrying a "pastor" system, we have developed a clergy-laity system that has narrowly focused the work of the church. It is urgent that we diversify. It is imperative that we return to the concept of a fully functioning church as taught in the New Testament. It is mandatory that the body concept of 1 Corinthians 12 be taught, with each member doing its part in the work of the body.
Consider the contrast between the reality and the biblical ideal.
- Reality--We are clergy bound. We seek and define progress by the preachers' efforts. We depend too much upon our ministers. Ministry to the world has been replaced by ministry to the church. We have lost ministry by, for, and to all the people and have in the same process lost the joy, freedom, spontaneity, and variety of genuine Christian ministry. We thus practice inreach more than outreach. We are building bound. We are on defense more than offense. We are assembly centered in our concepts of work and faithfulness. We provide too few opportunities for involvement, and too many leave, including our own children. The reality that we are plateaued in many congregations and in decline in a majority is hidden by the approximately equality of our back door and front door flow. We are embarrassingly outdistanced by many denominational groups, but assume that faithfulness has relegated us to inactivity in Christ's primary mission of winning souls.
- Biblical Ideal--No special category of Christian has a corner on the work of the church. God's purpose is all around us. Mission work is everywhere. We must relearn the edification that comes from active involvement and overcome the cultural desire for passive edification. We must become less selfish and more selfless, more interested in what we can do for others and less interested in what the church can do for us. We must know and practice the Bible. We must be willing to use our talents. We should know that all must give account to God for the fulfillment of our individual responsibilities, but that God has prepared us with abilities. Let us get our priorities straight. Let us try great things for God; let us expect great things from God. Let us pray for God's cause and for the salvation of the lost.
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Last updated October 9, 2003.