PC NOTE: I will use laymen in a generic sense. It did not occur to me that it might offend until I was finished and this was faster than going back and changing everything. So to be clear, “laymen” means anyone who attends a church actively.
“It will be enough for us to say that you’re a United Methodist layman…” these are the words from a kind woman who was inquiring about putting up a blog post from here after inquiring about some information on the poster. The poster was me so I feel comfortable sharing them. It struck me as I read them that there was a huge lesson here…one I needed to be reminded of and one that maybe will do us all some good.
Before I really get going, I want to say that I have nothing but respect and admiration for our pastors. They work long and difficult hours and are often under appreciated. Nothing that I type here is meant to disparage them or anyone with an education. There is a continuing need for educated leadership in the church and that should not be forgotten or underplayed.
Here we go. What if every great story of church ministry only identified the people involved as a United Methodist (or insert another denominational affiliation here) layman. The role of the pastor is huge, but it is largely to equip the saints for the works of ministry, so shouldn’t us saints be the point of contact? Shouldn’t we be the feet on the ground, the ones in the trenches? If a visitor to our church leaves with a favorable impression of the pastor, that is wonderful, but shouldn’t our goal be for them to leave with a favorable impression of the flock first and foremost? The pastor deserves our praise and support, but the world outside the church should be taking more note of the laymen and not the pastors don’t you think? If all the world sees and hears are our pastors, we are doing it wrong…not because our pastors are to loud, but because us little guys are to quiet. Should you have the opportunity to observe a flock of sheep and it’s shepherd, you will quickly notice that the sheep are louder. The shepherd only becomes louder when the sheep are in danger.
We are told in scripture to “be wise as serpents and gentle as doves.” (Matt. 10:16) We are told that we are “sheep among the wolves”. These things are true, but even doves will fight when necessary. In our churches full of division, it is necessary. Fight nicely. Fight respectfully. Listen, learn and engage with proper behavior. But it is time…so fight like a dove. There are certainly enough wolves in sheep’s clothing to go around. They cause division and strife. They pull apart instead of bringing together. We don’t need more of them. We might just need some sheep in wolves’s clothing out in the world changing it to the likeness of The Kingdom though. A lot has been said about how Christians look, but if the way you look is defining your faith, you might be doing it wrong. I promise, very few will mistake me being a Christian because of how I look, but they just might because of what I do. Fight like a dove, be a sheep in wolves’s clothing. These things might be the future of the church.
Our enemy the devil is indeed on the prowl (1 Peter 5:8) and we should be mindful of this, but not paralyzed by it. It is after all enough that we are laymen. The archangel Micheal did not even confront the enemy directly, but rather called upon the Lord God for his rebuke. Good enough for the archangel, good enough for us I think (Jude 1:9). IF the devil himself appears to us, we have only to call upon the Lord God and we may be assured of our deliverance. No need to be paralyzed by the activity of the enemy. In fact I would say that while the enemy will prowl like a lion and roar with all his might, he is nothing when compared to the roaring lambs of the church. We have the promise of scripture to back this up (Matt 16:17-19) after all.
This is a little choppy and admittedly written more on passion than on style, but just think of it! Think of a world and a church where it is enough that you are a layman. That is the church that was envisioned from the beginning. Yes we need leaders, and yes, God will call those to serve in that capacity, but when it comes to the dirty work, the trenches, the first people that the world will see representing the risen Christ, it is us little guys. If we want a better world, we will be the ones to build it. If we want a better community, we will be the ones to make it so. If we want our churches to grow, we will be the ones to grow them. We have work to do and need to get to it.
Ok so I have rambled and ranted for a bit, so what? Why does it matter? Waht is the point? Well the point is really simple for me I guess. It is enough that we are laymen in the church now. It is enough to change the world. And because it is enough now, when the dust settles, the arguments are done, Christ has returned and all is as it should be, it will be enough to say that we are laymen in the church to the One who started the church. It will be enough to hear Him say “well done”. Nothing could be better than that anyway. So yeah, it’s enough that we are laymen. Let’s just start doing a layman’s job.