Mutual Edification, Lay-led Ministry, Team Leadership - The Quest Has Begun

If you're here for the pictures of Isaac going to the zoo, please scroll down.

From this point forward, until the issue is resolved to a comfortable state in my head, we will be dealing a lot with mutual edification, lay-led ministry, and team leadership. We will vacation to side issues and take breaks because my mind will need it. But these three issues will be central points for this blog.

I will define the terms so you know what I am talking about.

I will define the word "laity" because many non-Catholics don't even know what I am talking about when I'm using the word.

Laity or laymen - All the people of the church who are not licensed clergy or paid pastors/preachers.

Mutual Edification - the act of the people in the body ministering to one another. Sermons are preached by laymen. Lessons are taught by laymen.

Lay-led Ministry - The process of not having a paid person on staff at a church. The church is led by volunteers only. A church could have lay-led ministries within it but not have an overarching lay-led ministry. A major difference.

Team Leadership - The act of a church being led by a group of people rather than a single, visionary leader.

Now that the words have been definced and we are on the same page about what I am talking about, I will clarify my position on all of these subjects.

For starters, whether you are in a paid ministry position or not, I think we can all agree that it is the duty of the church to train it's members to reach a point of ministering to their maximum gift potential. I also think, and we can probably disagree on this, that the face of the church would change for the better if every minister knew he had to train up his flock and let them lead themselves in five years. If you are in a paid ministry position, would anything about your ministry change if you knew your church would be on their own in five years?

In my setting, rural America, I think the healthiest church model would be a church with a lay-led ministry, team leadership, and mutual edification. It is a completely different environment than the city.

Most everyone in town already knows one another. Hiring an outside minister (I sometimes refer to them as mercenary ministers) to come in and minister to a community like this is completely backwards and ineffective. They don't know anyone in an environment where everyone knows everyone. They sometimes think that we are backwards in the way we live and in the fact they we haven't gone to the cities.

We are used to working together because we have lived our whole lives together. All our social groups were with the same people. The people we played sports with were the people we went to school with, were the people we saw at the town fair, and are the people we see at the grocery store, the people that we go to church with. Putting a "visionary leader" above us is rather ridiculous because we are used to working together.

The last one is that people in rural America could care less about how much education you have. This is something I need to mature in. I'm sure it gets worse the higher up the education totem pole you climb. I sometimes think that it doesn't matter what people say because they aren't trained to be ministers. They haven't studied their Bible as much. I realize that I am an ignorant, pompous jerk when I think like that. People's comments should not be based upon their education but upon the content of those comments. If we disregard comments because of the education level of the one making them, then we are not really in a quest for knowledge but in defense mode about the value of our education.

Church planting and church health still seems to be linked to having a building and a paid pastor. They are the default. A church automatically hires a pastor and makes plans for a building on day one. I want to propose that the default needs to change. The default needs to be lay-led ministry, team leadership, and mutual edification. Then a church could be called to hire a pastor. The default needs to be going buildingless until a church is called to build a building. We need to examine and change our defaults. Perhaps there are more. We need to begin viewing churches that don't have a building or paid pastor as being just as legitimate as a church that does. Legitimacy of a church should come from actually being a church. I think there are a lot of buildings out there with the word "church" on the sign out front, have people come in at scheduled times, yet fail to be a church.

I do believe you can be a healthy church and not have completely lay-led ministries, complete mutual edification, or team leadership. I am not saying that all churches need to have them. I do believe that for a church to be healthy they need to have lay-led ministries and allow for laity to teach one another at times. I want to clarify that in the beginning, so we don't argue about that.

Many people have the tendency to just disregard ideas as being radical and don't give reasons why they take that stance. If you think my views are too radical, explain why - if not here, at least to yourself. Although, in my quest for answers, I would love to know why they are wrong. I think we often label things as radical because we don't know how to deal with them rather than that they are actually wrong.

I didn't really go into reasons why I believe these things today. That journey will begin tomorrow. More will follow in future days. It's just a little temptation for the palate.

I recently ordered some books that deal with the subject. Here's a list if you feel like reading one with me.

Mutual Ministry: New Vitality for the Local Church by James C. Fenhagen

Going to the Root: Nine Proposals for Radical Church Renewal
by Christian Smith

Building the House Church by Lois Barrett

The open church: How to bring back the exciting life of the first century church by James H Rutz

The Power of Team Leadership : Achieving Success Through Shared Responsibility (Barna, George. Barna Reports for Highly Effective Churches Series.) by GEORGE BARNA

The Naked Church: Revised Third Edition by Wayne Jacobsen

If you know of another good book on the subjects, please let me know.

There will be another post today. Probably later this afternoon of an important matter. I need more information on it before that one comes.

Watch out for the potholes.