Priesthood of Some Believers - The Clergy Manifesto

For starters, don't feel I am just hammering on the paid staff at churches. Tomorrow, I will be giving my Believer's Manifesto. The day after, the Church Structure Manifesto. These are works in progress. If you think I missed something, put it in the comments. Together we can come up with something that could possible help change a church. If not, I feel we will all be better off because of the discussion and the challenge to our own thoughts.

There is a discussion continuing from yesterday's post that has been interesting. If you go on down to it and read, I doubt you'll regret it unless you don't like to think.

We, the church, have found ourselves in a precarious position. Most of the work done in the church is done by paid staff rather than ordinary believers. Most believers are content to be spectators of the work of God rather than active participants. The structure of most churches differs in no way from the businesses that surround us in the world.

I do not claim to have the complete solution. I do not claim to be original. Much of this is probably sub-consciously ripped off from stuff I have read or heard a few people say. I would love to see these thoughts completely implemented in order to test them. I tried to give a roadmap that starts where we are at rather than an abstract ideal that we have no way to approach. Whether I am successful or not in that endeavor is up to you.

I think fixing a church is a conscious decision that the priesthood needs to make. A minister can't say we are going to do this and try to convince the flock. The body of believers can't say they are going to do this if the paid staff isn't willing to go along. And neither will be able to do this if the current American business model structure is left in place.

The Clergy Manifesto

I want to begin with a disclaimer from the book Going to the Root by Christian Smith.

"The specific men and women who are priests, ministers, and pastors are mostly wonderful people...The problem with clergy is not the people who are clergy but the profession these people belong to. Let it also be clear that clergy do much good in the church. It's not that clergy don't help people. They do, which is one reason they are such a dominant feature of church life. But the fact that clergy are doing lots of good for the church often means the people of God are not."

1. Work youself out of a job.

The clergy needs to take seriously the trite phrase, "I am trying to work myself out of job." Because if they are taking that call seriously, they are the most ineffective group of people in the world. I have never heard a minister tell me about how he trained the believers in his church so well that he no longer had anything to do. Try and really work yourself out of a job.

2. Allow the call to a deeper life where you are.

Stop confusing God's call to a deeper life of service to a life of paid ministry. One of our biggest ailments in the church is that when someone is called to a deeper life of service we automatically send them off to Bible college. Maybe God is calling them to a deeper life of service right where they are. Some of us can be called to paid minister, but maybe many of us have confused our call to a deeper life of service to a life of paid ministry.

3. Educate the priesthood of believers in their calling.

If you think your education makes you more qualified to do certain tasks, it is your responsibility to educate the priesthood to be able to do what you feel more qualified to do. The local church can do an adequate job of seriously training its body if they place a priority on it. Create an educational system that takes seriously the call of the priesthood of believers. Train up everyone into the calling they have.

4. Where you share gifts with people in your church, share ministries.

It is a leader's job to maximize the spiritual gifts of brothers and sisters in his body. However, this means that the paid minister might have to quit doing some ministries that he might particularly enjoy in order to free up room for the emerging gifts.

(An aside that is not part of the manifesto - Look at preaching for example. Many people in every church are gifted to preach. However, we usually hear the same guy every week. Let's be honest, being the preacher is the most glamorous and exalted position in most churches. I understand the desire to hang on to that position because most of your authority stems from those 20-40 minutes. But if the gift of preaching has been given to others in your church, then you are doing a disservice to the Holy Spirit if you don't give them an opportunity to use their gift. I bring up preaching because it is only done by a few, yet it seems to be one of the most common giftings.)

5. You do not need to be the hub of every decision.

Don't be part of every decision that is made in the church. Let things happen that didn't originate with you. God will not speak only to you about the vision of the church. He will lay that vision on other people's hearts. Make sure the church is open to truly being led by God.

6. Let go of the control of money.

Empower the believers with decision-making power concerning money. He who decides how the money of the church is spent really controls the church. Many people who are outside of leadership never realize this terrible truth. Give that power back to the people of the church. When this happens, people will just bring up their ideas to one another. The priesthood should be able to minister with money when they see a need rather than wait for the decision-making structure of the church to give the go ahead.

7. Unhook the life support.

Be willing to step down, so that the priesthood of believers can step up. There is a lot of power that is given to a paid minister. Many times this power is given minister because of the laziness of the believers. Give up that power so the church can grow. Many paid ministers are a sick and twisted form of life-support. The church would die without them. Unhook the support and let the church die or truly live.

8. Never succumb to mainpulating.

Don't try to mildly manipulate the priesthood into going the direction you wish. Let God's will inhabit the church rather than making top-down decisions through puppet committees. If you have to manipulate the body into going a direction they wouldn't consciously head in, either the body is completely out of line with God's will, or you are. Listen to God speak through his body and go along with them where God wants to take them.

(Another aside - If the body is completely out of God's will, then they aren't a church. They need saved. I think many of our churches are filled with people that need to surrender their lives to the will of God. This is also known as being saved. You can't be saved without surrendering your will. Ministering to a body that thinks they are Christian when they really aren't is an idea that I haven't thought about much and don't have any answers to. You're on your own)

9. Stop getting paid.

Stop getting paid once you share ministries. A healthy church with shared ministries is only wasting money that can be used to further the kingdom of God by paying a minister when they can do all the work themselves. If you are called to the paid ministry, then it is time to move on to another church that needs planted or healed. The current healthy church could pay your salary as you move on to places that need a paid minister but can't afford one. If you don't want to leave this church, then find a job in the community. There is no need for you to continue getting paid once you have really worked yourself out of a job.

Watch out for the potholes.