Misconceptions About Clergy and Laity
A post by guest blogger, Todd Daningburg, adjunct professor at Northeastern Seminary.
On a recent flight back to Rochester, N.Y. from Los Angeles, in seat 45K—the window seat in the last row, the person in seat 45J was very nervous about the flight. At one point, she intended to get off the plane before we left the gate because the co-pilot was running late and she took that as a bad sign. With a five-hour flight and little to do to fill the time, besides watching the movie, "Cowboys vs. Aliens," we chatted about our lives. When she found out I was a pastor, she breathed a huge sigh of relief. She thought that might reduce the likelihood that we would have catastrophic problems with our flight.
Clearly, she elevated a person in ministry to a "higher plane" (pun intended) than other "ordinary" lay people. Somehow, she believed that my vocation put me in a privileged and protected relationship with the Almighty, which she would benefit from (along with all 245 people on board) because she was sitting next to me.
I share this to point out a common, but incorrect assumption, that clergy are somehow "closer to God" than other people, and that lay people do not carry the same weight when it comes to interacting with God. Such thinking fosters the notion that pastors are special and privileged when it comes to things divine and that lay people are not as capable of hearing from and serving God. The reality is, we all, clergy and laity alike, have "equal access" to God through Jesus Christ. We are all called to follow and serve Him. The Holy Spirit is given to all who accept Him as Savior and Lord. Understanding, proclaiming, and implementing the principle of the "priesthood of all believers" in the Church will foster greater fulfillment of God's Kingdom mission in the world today.
How might you harbor misconceptions about the roles of clergy and laity and their relationship to God?
Learn more about enrolling in the Equipping the Laity class offered February 27 – March 26, 2012.