Friday, December 30, 2016

What should a layperson do?

Almost every church has a job description for the pastor, but few have one for its lay people. Maybe this is why many lay people really don't know what their job is. A few years ago I read an excellent book by Randy Pope titled The Intentional Church: Moving From Church Success to Community Transformation. I'm in the process of reading it again and am finding it as helpful as it was the first time I read it.

Pope suggests that a biblically-based job description for lay people should include

  1. To discover and develop their spiritual gifts. Although there are many tools available to help a Christian understand his or her spiritual gifts, many Christians have no idea what their gift(s) might be.
  2. To view themselves as the primary ministers of the church. I often say that the church must move from a pastoral care model to a congregational care model.
  3. To spend the time needed to be equipped adequately to use their spiritual gifts. The pastor's job is to equip the saints to do the work of ministry (Eph. 4). The layperson's job is to be equipped, and that takes time.
  4. To commit the time necessary to use their gifts in ministry. There is little value in knowing one's spiritual gifts and be equipped to properly use them if one doesn't take the time to do so. (Page 132)
This a far more challenging job description than it might first appear. For one thing, it does demand time from a lay person, and time is a precious commodity in our day. It takes time to identify our gifts, it takes more time to be equipped to use those gifts, and it requires even more time to actually use those gifts in ministry.

This job description also flies in the face of how many Christians view the roles of pastor and lay person. Many believers have adopted an entitlement mindset. They expect the pastor to serve their needs, to entertain them, and to provide a worship experience that will meet their preferences. As one lady told a pastor friend of mine one Sunday, "That's what we pay you for." (He resigned a few weeks later.)

But, think of what would happen if your church members began to view themselves as gifted ministers. Instead of having one minister your church would have numerous ministers involved in many different ministries throughout the community. This will allow your church to have a much greater impact on the community which will also make it more likely that your church will grow.

An added benefit is how this job description impacts the lay people in a church. We all want to feel that our lives make a difference in the lives of others, and living into this job description makes it far more likely that we will have a positive impact on other people.

Finally, this job description gives permission to lay people to do ministry. Some seldom do much ministry because no one has asked them to. Lay people do not need the pastor or others in church leadership to ask them to become engaged in ministry. God has already called every lay person to do ministry. We are all ordained at our baptism to fulfill the ministries that He has gifted us to do. No one has to wait on another person to ask them to do something. Find a need and meet it.

Your church likely does not have a written job description for its lay people. That's fine. Create your own job description using this as a model. If enough people in your church does this you will be amazed at the difference it will make in the church and in those your church is serving.

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