Oct 102009
 

Now, let’s get back to the article in the August, 2009 issue of “Awake!”

The article raises 6 points where they say that the churches have deviated from the Bible and where harm has been the result. The first point reads:

1. The separation of a clergy class implies that one must have a special calling to be a minister of God. Yet, the bible says that all true Christians should serve God and praise his name. (Romans 10:9, 10) As for ministering within the congregation, Christian men in general are encouraged to reach out for the privilege, which is the custom among Jehovah’s Witnesses. – 1 Timothy 3:1

The clergy-laity distinction does not imply anything like that. It does imply that different people are called to different kinds of ministries, some of which involve leadership. This is what Ephesians 4:11 tells us. :

Eph 4:11 (NASB) – And He gave some {as} apostles, and some {as} prophets, and some {as} evangelists, and some {as} pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

And while we are on the subject of callings and ministries, let’s also include the fifth point that the writers of the Awake! article make. I think it is very closely related to the first:

5. The clergy-laity distinction tends to cause lay people to relegate religion to the clergy, while the laity just turn up for weekly services.

While this may be the case in some churches, it is very different from what I see in the churches where I am involved. The pastors are not the only ones involved in ministry. Lay people serve as Sunday school teachers, ushers and greeters.  Others are involved in music and technical ministries. At my church, we recently had several of  our youth travel to the mid-west to minister to the elderly in a nursing home, another group went on a short-term mission to Guatemala and last Sunday we heard from a woman in our church who had traveled  to Ethiopia to minister to orphans there.

Besides those ministries that are more or less tied to a church, there are many other opportunities for ministry within various communities. For several years I was involved in the Christian Motorcyclists Association. CMA is one of several  ministries that serves the motorcycle community. A few years ago, I came across 8 different ministries at Bike Week in Laconia NH. There are also aircraft, boating, hiking and various sports related ministries where Christians minister to others within the community of the sport or activity they enjoy.

Along with all that there are also ministries that reach out to people of various professions, ages and ethnicities.

From what I have seen, the churches that are thriving are the ones where the clergy actively encourage the laity to be involved in various ministries. Many churches will periodically have ministry fairs where each ministry has a table or a booth where members of the congregation can find out more about the ministry and how they can be involved.

But all of this ministry activity by lay people in churches receives scant attention from the writers of Watchtower publications.

In the next part we will cover what the Awake! article says about the clergy and finances.