An ode to the faithful layman.

“We need more young men called to preach!”

I cannot tell you how many sermons I have sat through that talk of this need for preachers. Don’t get me wrong, we do need to train young guys to shepherd the flock of God. I have the privilege to live a short distance from a school that does just that. Through the past 20 years, I have seen many preacher-boys come in and out of our church doors.

There are times where I would love nothing more than to pull those guys aside to share another needful and oft neglected ministry. It’s a role that is rarely spoken of, but critical to the church body.

It requires no special degree. It is often thankless, hard work, steeped in prayer. The only qualifications are a heart and life that desires to serve out of love for Christ and His bride, the Church.

It is the faithful church member.

We don’t talk about him/her enough. We don’t point out the critical asset that they are to ministry. I have rarely heard them mentioned at all.

Not that we do what we do for accolades. I’d rather wait till glory for mine. But we must encourage the generations to come to be not only “plugged in” to a body of believers, but to be investing in them as well.

Photo by Anna Earl on Unsplash

There’s a not so secret secret that churches fail to realize: the Pastor and his family cannot do it all. Nor are they supposed to.

Acts 6 tells us about how the Church had a problem: the widows were not all cared for fairly. It wasn’t out of malicious intent, but the church leaders had their hands full. Think about it. Thousands of people being converted in one sermon? That’s a lot of follow up and discipleship! Add caring for the fatherless and the widows, not to mention dealing with any doctrinal error or sin issues… it was understandable that something was slipping.

So the apostles called out seven men to be deacons. They weren’t called to preach (though they could), but their job was to serve the congregation. It was- and still is- a bonafide ministry.

I see examples all over the scriptures of people who were striving for faithfulness in daily life and extending that to service for God. Paul was constantly giving “shout outs” to his co-laborers in his letters, namely because he was so thankful for their dedication to the work. Not all of them were pastors. Women were not exempt from these praises.

We need laborers in all forms. The Sunday school teacher. The door greeter. The cleaner. The voice in the choir. The treasurer. The groundskeeper. The pianist. The bus driver. The nursery worker. The person who is present. The list is endless.

Photo by Anna Earl on Unsplash

There are far too few people committed to church ministry outside of a pastorate. The unverified but oft referred to statistic is 10% of the church body does 90% of the work. The faithful laymen are often casualties to the same burn-out that pastors experience.

People leave churches often carrying this excuse, “There is not enough here for us.” Programs. Same aged people. Classes. Outreach. And sadly, the things they believe are lacking can be areas where they could do the serving. The unromantic adage is still true: If you see something that needs to be done, you are probably the best one to do it.

We want all the things, but we don’t want to be the ones doing the actual work. It really is disobedience, because just as each member of the body serves a functional purpose, each member of a church has a functional job as well. When we join a body of believers, we are to joyfully find our function in that body.

And you, mama, wife, single gal, grandma, and all y’all’s (having a southern husband gives me double the pronoun power): we are not exempt. We are not to sit on the sidelines because of our kids, our jobs, our school schedule, our ailments… there is something we all can devote ourselves to for the sake of Christ’s church.

So yes- the church needs good Pastors who are faithful to the Word and gently lead the flock- but the church also needs an army of faithful men and women who are committed to their local body of believers. Desperately.

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