Saturday, August 16, 2008

...the evil division of laity and clergy

The Salvation Army system and structure was born in almost complete rebellion against clericalism and the evil division of laity and clergy. In dreaming up the Army, the Founders (I include William, Catherine, Bramwell, Railton etc etc), created a system where every soldier was a missionary../

...I know that you will realise that the word laos, from which we get laity, simply refers to the people of God...all of us. When we go down the road of creating laity and clergy, we create a breed of super-Christians, professional Christians. Clergy is a bad word, a swear word...and actually, so is 'laity' when used by someone purporting to be 'clergy.'
Army Renewal

Inspiring words from Andrew Clark at Army Renewal - I love it when someone speaks the words that I have struggled to articulate.

I get offended when people talk of Officers being "in full time ministry"... because... last time I checked... we are ALL in full time ministry! Its just that some of us "make tents" while reaching to our communities... while others get paid to reach their communities. The concept of "professional" Christians comes from a need to be separate... and that's not something I subscribe to.
I, as an officer, am not called to be the priest; I just am a priest by dint of being part of the Body of Christ. Officership is about something different - it's about fulfilling a certain role God has called me to that's quite separate from my status as a priest.
Chris Hinton

My pal Chris follows this with his observation that "as an officer" he is fulfilling a role of leadership within the Corps. We need leaders... just as we need teachers and hospitable people. We need everyone... the laos... to play their part. As an officer... he is contributing to the whole... to the expression with his gifts/talents/passions/skill set. The key is contributing... he is doing his part... opening doors... supporting... making things happen.

Thank you, Andrew and Chris!

1 comment:

caldjr said...

As you know T, I'm kind of caught in between both camps at the mo! Happily serving 'full-time' as part of the priesthood, but awaiting the all-clear (from man that is - God's already approved us!) to be an SA officer. I totally agree with the comments in your post and have gone over them in my own mind over recent years. It would have been so much easier for me and my family if we had just carried on as full-time "priests" in our church, work and personal lives. Nothing needed to change really - we just did what God guided us into in our locality. But we knew He wanted more from us - he wanted us as leaders (elders?). And not only that, but elders within TSA. An SA Officer is so much more than just a minister or priest. He/she is tasked not only with the responsibility for the spiritual wellbeing of a Corps/Centre but also the day to day business running of it. Now while the buck stops with the officer, part of their task is to release church members into exercising their spiritual gifts - it must not be a one person/couple does all operation for that is not healthy or Biblically sound.
So while there has to be a distinction between leaders and members (the legal side of things has been mentioned elsewhere), the two camps must work hand in hand to further the work of God. All are engaged full time in the ministry to which we have been called.
Hope all that makes sense!


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