Dear Friends, as I write this, I’m filled with mixed emotions. It’s not only leaving our Lincoln Park family but also retiring after many years of ministry that has me deep in thought.
On Lay Ministry and Discipleship: Are You a Dedicated Player?
From Pastor KyungMo KooGod gives His Spirit to every true believer in Jesus Christ, and this Spirit gives each one gifts for ministry. Therefore, every believer can perform the ministry of the Church by using his or her individual gifts from God. Unfortunately, it is also true that when we say ministry of the church, it means mainly the ministry of the pastor. In many cases, laity is described as the flock and the pastor as shepherd, and thus laity is the object of ministry.
However, as we already know, historically, the early Christian Church began its course through the witness and activity of “common” people. The Bible witnesses to us not about the offices, ordination, and hierarchy, but the function, calling, and vocation of those called to minister to people within the church, and evangelize to those outside (see Eph.4:11).
I strongly believe that God’s ministry cannot be fulfilled by only focusing on the ministry of the pastor. Every individual in the church is called by God, not only to be God’s chosen, but also to participate in God’s mission and ministry. Both clergy and laity are all equally important in the body of Christ, serving God and the world.
Many Christians are still reluctant to let go of the notion of “the clergy doing the pastoring and the laity just receiving it.” This might be a reason why churches today are shrinking and not able to grow. Perhaps this is also why Lincoln Park is struggling, as well.
The lack of lay ministry and the failure to make disciples in local churches are not minor issues, but dangerous problems that threaten the Church itself. Both clergy and laity are called upon to collaborate as co-workers. Even better, laity-led ministry can stimulate Church growth by opening the way for all members of the Church to participate in God’s holistic ministry.
Thankfully, Lincoln Park has compassion, will, able leaders, and so much potential for lay ministry. Many good administrative lay leaders already serve in various committees. But that’s not enough. If Lincoln Park truly wants to grow in quality and quantity, we need more steady and strong spiritual lay leadership. We need more laity who can lead prayer meetings, teach Bible study, become actively involved in youth ministry, plan and go on mission trips, serve as Sunday school teachers, and step up as lay speakers.
Pastor SunAe and I will continually ask and encourage you to teach, preach, or participate in various church ministry and mission opportunities. This is an intentional part our ministry plan to make each and every one of us disciples of Jesus Christ, not just a pew-warmer or spectator.
I love football. In my observation, there are three kinds of people that enjoy football. One type is a TV audience member who watches the game from the living room as a hobby. Even though they have their favorite teams and are eager to watch, they are not committed enough to go to the games. The other is the spectator in the stadium who shows up, wears team jerseys, spends time and money, and roots for his/her team, but is not a player. The third is the actual player on the field who plays each game with all their strength, skills, and commitment to win.
Such is the same with Christian faith. Many just know about Jesus Christ and are satisfied with being a good neighbor of church. They show up to church during special seasons like Christmas or Easter. Some go to church on a regular basis and have been longtime members, but they are more like the audience of a stadium. They sit on the pews and enjoy watching the pastor or a few laity work. Very few are real disciples of Jesus who show their commitment and do their own ministry, not only in the church, but also in their family, work place, and community.
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