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Misconceptions About Clergy and Laity



A post by guest blogger, Todd Daningburg, adjunct professor at Northeastern Seminary.


stockvault high altitude121761On 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?

Todd Daningburg
Adjunct professor
Northeastern Seminary


Learn more about enrolling in the Equipping the Laity class offered February 27 – March 26, 2012. 


When we are seminarians or in church leadership positions, I think it is hard to believe that anyone would think that pastors/church leaders are divinely privileged or somehow superhuman. After all, we see the good, the bad, and the ugly behind the scenes. It can leave us jaded. 
But that's exactly why your post is so important! We sometimes lose touch with how those who are not in full/part time ministry see us (Yet aren't we all in full-time ministry though? You do remind us of the priesthood of all believers). 
Some do see us as having privileged access to God and that is not the case. As James says, God shows no partiality in handing out his wisdom. And elsewhere Paul quotes the prophets as saying "He has scattered his gifts abroad." When each member of the body realizes how necessary her/his role and gifting is, I think we'll see the church flourish. Thank you for these words.
Posted @ Thursday, January 26, 2012 7:39 AM by Marlena
I appreciate your thoughts, Marlena. I once told my congregation that where the sign in front of the church building lists the name of the minister, their names should be on it. I love 1 Peter 4:10, which says, "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms" (NIV). Every believer has received gifts intended to be used for serving others. In a very real sense, we are all ministers and everyone has a ministry.
Posted @ Friday, January 27, 2012 8:30 AM by Todd Daningburg
Great web web site. Lots of helpful information here. I’m sending it to some friends ans in addition sharing in delicious. And naturally, thanks on your sweat!…
Posted @ Friday, October 19, 2012 5:43 PM by Used iPad
I totally agree with you that we are all called to follow and serve God. Thanks for sharing such useful information.
Posted @ Tuesday, December 04, 2012 12:13 AM by remove moles
You have very well explained the relationship of God. I frequently visit church and I am really amazed by the content you have posted. May Jesus bless everybody.
Posted @ Tuesday, December 04, 2012 11:02 PM by mappsolutely
I agree with you that whether we are clergy or laity we have equal access to God. I appreciate your thoughts.
Posted @ Sunday, December 16, 2012 11:27 PM by skintagfree
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Posted @ Saturday, December 29, 2012 1:54 AM by biogetica
Yes you are right we are all called to follow and serve Him. Even the Holy Spirit is given to all who have accept him as "Savior" and "Lord."
Posted @ Monday, January 07, 2013 12:42 AM by skin tags
I agree with your point that we have to remove the misconceptions about the clergy and laity with respect to God relationship.
Posted @ Monday, January 07, 2013 6:15 AM by molegone
The pic is looking very impressive and attractive. And you are absolutely right we all have "equal access" to God through Jesus Christ.
Posted @ Wednesday, January 09, 2013 5:23 AM by birmingham printer
You have indeed very well explained the misconceptions about the roles of clergy and laity in the above post. Very valuable information shared for sure.
Posted @ Tuesday, March 12, 2013 12:41 AM by Skin Moles
This is my first time comment at your blog.Good recommended website
Posted @ Friday, April 19, 2013 6:32 AM by
I dont believe in any signs. I only believe that we are all follower of God's instructions.
Posted @ Tuesday, April 30, 2013 5:07 AM by reno personal injury lawyers
it more and more people. Thanks for this. Wish you luck, dude.
Posted @ Monday, May 06, 2013 6:11 PM by Used ipad
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