On October 16th, the third Sunday of this month, we will celebrate Laity Sunday. Our Book of Discipline has this to say about this observance – “Laity Sunday calls the Church to celebrate the ministry of all lay Christians, as their lives are empowered for ministry by the Holy Spirit.
Membership in a church should begin the process of a person growing into a full relationship with Jesus. But Pastor Ted, can’t that happen OUTSIDE THE CHURCH? See these words that I gleaned from a ministry resource book:
“A stalk of corn is a stalk of corn even though it may be growing in a wheat patch. Under such conditions, however, it will not be much of a stalk of corn, and it certainly will not bear any harvest of grain. Conceivably a Christian can be a Christian and not have fellowship with others in the church, but he will not be MUCH of a Christian, certainly not a fruit-bearing Christian. Every Christian who is truly born again will desire to be an active part of a body of believers, the ‘called-out ones’ of God.”
In our faith tradition, pastors are ordained by their Bishop and make promises about what it is that they will do and be once they actually become clergy. In the high and legalistic language of our Book of Discipline, the task of clergy is defined –
“Ordained ministers devote themselves wholly to the work of the Church and to the upbuilding of the ministry of all Christians. They do this through careful study of Scripture and its faithful interpretation; through effective proclamation of the gospel and responsible administration of the sacraments; through diligent pastoral leadership of their congregations for fruitful discipleship; and by following the guidance of the Holy Spirit in witnessing beyond the congregation in the local community and to the ends of the earth.”
But the role of the laity is equally challenging. That person who decides to join a United Methodist Church stands before the minister and the congregation and promises:
MY PRAYERS – DO you pray for your church, and its ministry to those OUTSIDE the church. Do your prayers lead you INTO some kind of ministry?
MY PRESENCE – Someone did an estimate of how much time we devote to different areas of our lives. Based on a lifespan of 70 years:
* Six years would have been spent eating (your pastor may have already gone past his allotted time)
* Eleven years would have been spent working (seems like a lot more than that, doesn’t it?)
* Eight years would have been spent in entertainment and amusements.
* Twenty four years would have been spent sleeping (Rip Van Winkle?)
* Five years spent getting dressed (somehow I think this would vary with men and women)
* Three years would have been spent talking (this man hasn’t been around us)
* Only six months would have been spent attending church (We give our time to the things we really love to do, right?)
MY GIFTS – Sure, this DOES include money. And no matter how little we lift it up, the biblical standard of the tithe still exists. But this also means that I share with my church the parts of my life where I’m gifted. Am I musical? Why am I not in the choir? Am I not a super organizer? Why am I not chairing a committee? Am I a great teacher? It may be that I pour myself out in the school system, but my church sure could use another Sunday School teacher.
MY SERVICE – Not something I’m GIFTED in, but something I can do if needed. Praise God for those who cut grass, rake leaves, pick up trash on the road, etc.
MY WITNESS – I say “I can’t” but Pastor Ted says, “O yes you can”. There ARE places you go where there are plenty of unchurched, unsaved people. Yes, I hang around the church a lot, but I also go swimming, go to cardio wellness class, go to band practice. And if I just enter into a few conversations I can find the non-believers. MY MISSION FIELD!
On October 16, David Holliday will lift up the message. If you’ve ever attended one of his Bible studies, you know how much he understand scripture. And if you’ve ever sung in the choir, you know how much he loves the Lord. Be with us that Sunday.