The Priesthood of the Believer – Is it Time?

CHURCH LEADERS WHO RAISE UP CHURCH LEADERS

Luther’s Legacy

One of the truths of the Reformation began by Luther 500 years ago was that of the “Priesthood of the Believer,” meaning every Christian is to function as a minister sharing the message of salvation and the love of God to a dying world. That concept, although ascribed to by Protestants for centuries, has largely been ignored. In fact most churches function almost as if nothing has changed. We have better technology and lots of information, but often only a few “special” people do the “ministry” and the rest watch and sing and hear teaching while the “minister” ministers.

It’s pretty much the 80/20 rule: 80% of the ministry is being done by 20% of the people.

It’s in the Bible isn’t it?

You know the Bible teaches about the Body of Christ. There is the universal Body of Christ, made up of all believers. And there is the localized instance: every church is a smaller body of Jesus, with many members. Each member is crucial to the proper functioning of the entire body of Christ. As Paul says in 1st Corinthians 12:21, the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ We say that we believe it but have we embraced it?

Frankly, it can be pretty scary for many leaders and especially those who are senior leaders of a church or any organization (or family) to begin to trust that others can participate more fully. Yes … trust issues!

Football and body ministry

Many churches of every denomination have relegated most believers to watchers not ministers. It’s like a football game. There are 22 men on the field who are exhausted, fighting towards a goal, and 20,000 people in the stands in desperate need of exercise!

Ephesians 4:11-12 says that the leaders: the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers; are to equip the saints for ministry… so the main job of the leaders is not primarily to be ministering and serving, but to equip others (the “saints” which means holy ones or all believers) to minister and serve.

Most of us have experienced true body ministry on occasion, but it’s rare. When it’s expressed well it’s powerful. Everyone has ownership, everyone is engaged, people grow faster and serve with more enthusiasm because they are functioning in a healthy way, the way Jesus intended.

What can I do?

Ok, what’s the first step to make some changes and begin to implement this concept in reality?

Leaders: Pray and take personal responsibility for doing your job, to equip your members for ministry. If you’ve tended to dominate the ministry so no one else is given permission to minister, repent and decide to change. Meet with your core leadership team and teach on this and get buy-in, so they understand that their primary job is to equip the members for ministry.

Spend time praying for God to lead you in making this shift.

Followers: Pray and take personal responsibility to discover your gifts and calling and live it out. If you’ve been sitting on the sidelines letting others serve, repent and decide to change. Start engaging with others in your group or team or ministry, and especially engage with the leader – to work together, to get in synch, to trust each other. It’s easy to criticize your leaders… but are you letting others whom you lead function fully?

Study the book of Acts and Romans 12.

We will dive deeper into this in the next newsletter. There is a LOT more to tackle regarding spiritual gifts, destiny and calling. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that destiny is the most powerful concept that you can imagine; it encompasses so much of the Christian walk.

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