On the ‘Info’ tab of my Facebook profile I have a short list of favorite quotations. Some of these quotes are from books. Others are from movies. A few are from personal friends, youth group members or family members. Most are just plain silly, but a few are profoundly serious.
One of my favorites is from a highly intelligent Kindergartener. This wise young girl once said, “My teacher is Mrs. Neifert. Her husband owns the church.”
While we all know that’s not true, it reflects a prominent mindset in the church today. Many church goers believe erroneously that God has put the pastor in charge of the church. Some believe that he has some special authority in the kingdom of Heaven beyond that of mere mortals. He is the professional whose prayers are more powerful and more effective, availing much more than the average Joe’s entreaties. Folks divide the church into two classes of people – clergy and laity.
Borrowing Hindu terminology, the clergy, in many people’s minds, are the high caste Brahmins of churchdom. They serve full-time. They are the ministers, the teachers, the “chosen ones.” Lay people, by comparison, are the untouchable Dalits, the lowest caste. They are “just volunteers.” They do the bidding of their high and exalted pastors.
I’m so grateful for my Quaker heritage. The peculiar branch of Jesus’ church that I belong to believes in the priesthood of all believers. It recognizes the giftedness of everyone and allows all to participate fully in the life of the church.
Oh that we Quakers – no, every church – would completely embrace these truths and put them into practice. God help us all, each and every believer, to be obedient to our Lord’s personal callings and corporate commissions.
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