“The Ministry: Do I need a title?”
Most people associate the word ministry with pulpits and baptistries, libraries and seminary, mission trips and offerings, weddings and funerals. Why? Because those who move most visibly in and around such places and events are those whom we have formally named ministers. We categorize them according to their duties: Minister of Music, Minister to Students, Minister of Education, Minister of Administration, Children’s Minister, and of course, Pastor.
Our consistent use of such titles, although generally accurate, encourages questions such as, “What ministry are you going into?” when what we really mean to ask is, “How do you plan to minister to others?” leading people to believe that ministry is something only a select few believers are called to carry out.
Members of church staff are often called clergy, and other church members are often called laymen. The modern connotations, or implied meanings, of these terms don’t match up with their denotations, or actual meanings, however, leading some people to assume that laymen are somehow less qualified to carry out ministry or of lower rank than clergy. This is simply not true!
The term layman comes from the Greek word laos, which means “a people…who are of the same stock.” The laos of the church, then, are the “people of God,” and the term layman is a compliment. The term clergy comes from the Greek word kleros, which means “a portion of the ministry common to the apostles.”
Clergy, then, are those who oversee a portion of the ministry we all share, making clergy a subset of laymen, a group within a group, not necessarily more qualified to carry out our shared ministry or more important than other believers, but unique in their assignment to oversee and equip other laymen for that shared ministry.
Clergy carry a load of responsibility as a result of their specialization that most of us don’t desire and would not take on. While clergy deserve our respect, admiration, and support for taking on that responsibility, they should not be regarded as better or more important than any other believer, as the Holy Spirit that indwells and equips them is the very same that indwells and equips laymen.
All believers are called to the ministry of Jesus Christ, whether they be clergy or laymen.
Few of the people listed in the following passage could be called ministers by today’s definition. Still, God chose to do great things through them. To be effective in the Kingdom, you don’t need a title, but faith!
Respond to the following in your journal:
What did you learn through Bible study today?
How were you encouraged? How were you challenged?