Laity and clergy benefit one another in shared ministry and there are key ways laity and clergy can better partner together.
Greater Southwest District Lay Leader, CLM, CCM
Life is such a good thing that Jesus came to give you more of it—an abundance of it! He offers abundant joy, abundant hope, and abundant peace—no matter what is going on around you. Laity need to share this life that is free to everyone.
Laity of the church know other lay persons and must share with the clergy the gifts and talents of each one to be used in building up the church. Clergy need to use the laity in worship and events and take their knowledge of the community at heart to make it all work.
According to the Book of Discipline, “Lay members of The United Methodist Church are, by history and calling, active advocates of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional” (Paragraph 127). The laity must share their own faith experiences and the gospel. When the congregation hears from the laity, they are more apt to consider their own faith journey.
Matthew 28:18-20, Common English Bible, says: “Jesus came near and spoke to them, ‘I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”
As we are all called to make disciples of Jesus Christ, here are some suggestions for ways clergy and laity might partner together:
- Laity need to partner with the clergy to find ways to improve the spiritual tone of the church, to build the community of God.
- Set up teams responsible for spiritual growth to go deeper in faith.
- Create opportunities to learn to pray together, as well as with and for others.
- Work with the clergy during the worship service as ushers and greeters, and then to read scripture, play special music, make announcements, and even conduct complete worship services at times.
- Laity are tasked with bringing God’s message to the world, along with the clergy.
- Laity should offer prayer and friendship to the clergy through their gifts and talents.
By participating in the life of the church, laity will strengthen and prepare themselves for mission in the world. Laity should always be involved in ministry, representing Christ and his church, bearing witness to him wherever they may be, and carrying out Christ’s work with their gifts. Laity also participate in the worship life and governance of the church along with the clergy. Laity and clergy are called to challenge and support the church to be relevant in the world.
In Mark 1:17, Jesus calls to his future disciples, “Come, follow me . . . and I’ll show you how to fish for people” (CEB). Clergy should affirm the gifts of laity and encourage them to use their gifts in ministry, and laity should do the same by praying for and encouraging the clergy. Ministry is not a competition; we must work together for the God’s kingdom. Remember, your life bears witness more than your words.
Training and discipling are needed in ministry for both clergy and laity in the areas of nurturing, outreach and evangelism, worship, and witness. This is so that laity and clergy can be fruitful in their ministry to the church together.
The church is the body of faithful disciples of Jesus Christ working together to build the church, making new disciples for Jesus Christ. We must all work together. Even Jesus had twelve disciples with him, so we know no one person can do it alone.