“We have many parts in one body, but the parts don’t all have the same function. In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other.” Romans 12:4-5
Some folks think that they don’t have any responsibility for helping the church to grow. They come on Sunday morning and go through the worship service and then they think they are done. Others want to do something but feel they don’t have the gifts to make a difference. Still others throw themselves wholeheartedly into a task or committee or some activity in the church, and eventually they burn out. Some people leave because they get mad at the pastor or another church member.
Paul reminds the congregation in Rome that they are all part of the Body of Christ, and each one has something to offer in continuing the work of Christ in the world. The Church really isn’t the building, but the people, and the people don’t stay in the building, they are sent forth to be in ministry to the world. And yet, the work of the church also needs organization and administration in order to help that happen. EVERYONE has something to offer.
In one of my churches, an older woman couldn’t do much, but she wrote out cards and called people who were ill, shut in, grieving, or had something challenging going on in their lives. Another woman who was pretty much confined to a wheelchair prayed regularly over the list of people on the church’s prayer list, in the church’s directory, and for the pastor and staff.
I know people who would never come up to the front of the sanctuary to help lead a service, but they work hard to put out fellowship refreshments, help keep the building in good condition and looking nice, manage the financial parts of the church’s work, find ways to stay in touch with those who haven’t been attending, teach Sunday school or an adult Bible Study class, take the offering during worship, sweep the kitchen floor, bake, bring food to a pot luck supper, attend the men’s or women’s groups, or any number of things that need to work to help the church be in vital and faithful ministry.
That is the ministry of the Laity. In fact, the lay people in a church are partners in ministry with the pastor. Together they work to offer Christ to the world and keep the church a place where we can continue to support each other, grow in faith, and learn what it means to live in our often hurting and broken world. The Laity are the ones who remain after the pastor leaves, so it is important for people coming to a church to make connections and get to know the other folks in the church.
As in any church, there will be people who don’t always get along, but what a great opportunity to set an example by showing kindness and respect to another person even if we don’t particularly like them! This Sunday, I celebrate the ministry of the laity as they continue to BE the church in the world. Thanks be to God!