The laity are needed. The work of the church is too big a task for just a select few no matter how gifted or how trained they may be. The doctrine of the laity is so important, that if adequately understood and properly expressed in the life of God’s people, it can bring about a spiritual awakening that will revolutionize the life and ministry of the church.
Any lover of the universal church, and specifically the Church of God, must be concerned with its future, the only future which cannot and must not anticipate retirement. To be wedded to today is to be a widower tomorrow. We live in a new fast-paced, technological society that calls for dramatic change in thinking and action. Most of our present boards, agencies, commissions, associations and departments arose from our early history. The change that has come has been within the structures, not in new structures. Dramatic change is needed in the following areas:
Perception. The laity must be considered equal partners in ministry and recognized as priests in the marketplace. Teamwork with the pastor and his staff is emphasized and well-developed. It would be revolutionary to cultivate such a level of teamwork with lay leaders.
- Enablement. In order for lay ministry to flourish, the support of voting ministers is needed. Laity must be given the responsibility of making decisions in the church that affect their future. Lay leaders must be a vital contributor to ministry, not just “another pair of hands.”
- Education. The laity must be able to defend their beliefs and share them with others. They must become students of the Word. The laity deserve to have an opportunity to receive education that will motivate, educate and continuously train them to enhance teamwork, pride of workmanship, personal growth and productivity.
- Training. Training and discipling are needed in the ministry of elders and deacons. Training is needed in the area of outreach and evangelism so that lay people can be fruitful in ministry.
- Outreach. Ministry has to take place beyond the confines of the local church. We need to reach beyond our walls not only in public relations type ventures but in hard-hitting, soulwinning evangelism efforts. The laity must be released for ministry. This aggressive outreach goal must involve the laity in winning the lost to Christ and getting them into the local church, discovering their “giftedness,” affirming and motivating them, training and discipling them, and giving them meaningful opportunities for service.
The future awaits us, a future which will not tolerate yesterday’s church in today’s world, let alone the world of tomorrow. This is an hour of challenge! And of promise! The choice before the church as we face the future is to continue with our present pattern and style of ministry or to allow for a “second reformation” . . . a reformation of the released power of the laity (God’s people) in the world today. We truly need holy boldness.