I love R. Paul Stevens book “Liberating the Laity”, most of which can be browsed at Google Books (http://books.google.com/books?id=1FV7qYjqCpMC). Below are some distilled thoughts from this book.
TEN WAYS TO EMPOWER THE LAITY FOR MISSION FROM THE EQUIPPING PASTOR
By R. Paul Stevens and Phil Collins
- Work with the whole-being in the world for the sake of God’s reign.”The body of Christ must never be ‘the body beautiful.’ It does not exist for itself, its own glory, its own self-improvement, or even its own mission. The body exists for God and God’s purposes in the world. We must be willing to do with our own corporate life what Christ did with his body in love for the world-to interpose its life for the healing and salvation of others” (page 133).
- Cultivate heathy interdependence among members. Let laypeople teach the pastors: What are the issues you face in your daily work? What difference does your faith make as to how you handle these issues? What can the Church do to help equip you for your fill-time ministry as a servant of Christ on the job? (Page 135.)
- Lead the process, not the people-evoking gifts for mission. “By listening, teaching, consulting, and clarifying, the pastor will work with all parts of the church as spokesperson for a mission that the body can embrace.” (Page 135.)
- Cultivate the Culture: Empowering symbols for diaspora mission. (Baptism & Eucharist as sacraments that affirm and define the vocation of the laity in the world.)
- Make changes slowly and indirectly-incremental steps for the recognition of lay mission. Finding ways to raise up and make visible the worldly vocation of the laity in the life and worship of the congregation. Interviews of Laity in Sunday Service, prayers for vocations/occupations.
- Sound your own vision and define yourself. Proclaim the diaspora mission. In the church described in the New Testament, everyone is a clergy person (in the biblical sense of that term) and no one is a layperson (in the usual sense of that term.) (Page 138.)
- Shepherd the system and the subsystems: Addressing the multi-generational bondage of the laity.
- At the Reformation, the preacher replaces the priest and the church remains clergy-dominated.
- Church structures do not reflect belief in every member ministry.
- Catholic seminary system adopted by the Protestants perpetuated the clerical culture.
- Lack of theology of and by the laity.
- Kingdom ministry eclipsed by church ministry (ie. ministry within the gathered life of the congregation.
- No adequate recognition of lay ministries in society-no ordination to societal ministries.
- Calvin’s “secret call” to ordained ministry perpetuates elitism.
- Adequate lay spirituality has not been taught or promoted.
- Old Testament priesthood and leadership concepts applied to clergy rather than to Jesus, their true fulfillment.
- Cultural/social forces…secular management models, professional/lay analogies disempower the laity.
- Avoid becoming triangled-Get people to take responsibility for their own ministry.
- Maintain open boundaries with the world: equipping the church with permeable boundaries.
- Relax: The Church is in good hands.
“We can never be in the world only as its benefactors! I say to the world, ‘I will be an instrument of God in the continuing act of creation,’ and the world fulfills in me its side of the covenant. It brings forth in me the new creation.” pp.146/147.
Laynet, Volume IV, Number 2, Summer 1993
Dr. R. Paul Stevens is Academic Dean of Regent College, Vancouver, and Associate Professor of Lay Theology and Empowerment. He is author of Liberating the Laity (IVP) The Equipper’s Guide to Every Member Ministry (IVP) as well as several books on marriage, and has degrees from McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario, as well as a DMin degree from Fuller Theological Seminary. Dr. Stevens has over twenty years experience in pastoral service in situations ranging from inner city mission to university churches. He engages in experimental theological education annually in Kenya and loves to travel. His passion is to release all the people of God for ministry and mission. Paul and his wife Gail live in Vancouver . They have three married children and several grandchildren.
Dr. Philip Collins is the principal of Carey Theological College, on the campus of the University of British Columbia, where he also serves a professor of Applied Theology. He has served pastorates in Eastern Canada and in the State of Maine, and has been the Executive Secretary for the Convention of Baptist Churches of British Columbia. Dr. Collins has had four books published, one co-authored with Dr. Paul Stevens, as well as numerous articles. He has always maintained a strong interest in both the leadership needs of the Christian church and in the development of new congregations in Canada, the United States, and Kenya, and has been involved either directly or with a team of developers in the planning of 34 churches. Philip and his wife Lois have three children and four grandchildren.
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