Priestly People

I came across this quote from Barbara Brown Taylor, in Pastor; The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry, and I thought it a fitting discussion of the state of ministry in many churches.  Who does ministry?  Is it the pastor alone, or is there something more intended when Jesus said to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (also see 1 Peter 2)

“Somewhere along the way we have misplaced the ancient vision of the church as a priestly people — set apart for ministry in baptism, confirmed and strengthened in worship, made manifest in service to the world.  That vision is a foreign one to many church members, who have learned from colloquial usage that “minister” means the ordained person in a congregation, while “lay person” means someone who does not engage in full-time ministry.  Language like that turns clergy into purveyors of religion and lay people into consumers, who shop around for the church that offers them the best product.” 

Personally, I cringe at the very mention of “purveyor of religion.”  And almost equally as unsettling is the trend of consumerism in churches.  How do we get out of this paradigm? 

Taylor would suggest education.  I would tend to agree, but I’ve got to think on it some more… 

Clearly, one of the church’s designs is to facilitate a community where followers are taught, together, what it means to live in faith, hope, and love.  But, I would challenge that every church you asked would say they do this.  What is going wrong? 

I would have to come back to my standard philosophy of church.  It needs to fulfill two main goals:  Living in Christ and Living out Christ.  In other words, I have seen or been a part of several churches which do a “good” job of teaching the bible. They call this discipleship.  BUT, these churches fail to show Christ to the outside world.  This is very understated, but I believe this is what “Love God, Love Others” is all about.  We must form communities which teach true doctrine and practice love to the community and the world.  I just don’t ever want to be called a “purveyor of religion.”   I want to be called a lover of Jesus and people. 

Anyway, still processing…any thoughts?

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