What would it be like if we didn’t have a professional class of clergy in the Christian world? Just try to imagine going to church in an environment where there was no Senior Pastor, no highly polished presentation called a sermon, no showy worship service with the equivalent of a professional concert happening on stage. Imagine a church without a paid staff, a church that existed completely on a volunteer basis, but still thrived and met people’s spiritual, emotional, and even physical needs.
Well, if you’ve been coming to Christian Community for very long at all, it’s really not that hard to imagine. We’ve gone through two long periods without a Lead Minister, during which we maintained a teaching rotation from among the community. Both times we hired a lead minister recently, I’ve had several conversations with different people who said that they miss hearing from different people in the community. And don’t forget about worship. We literally have a different person planning worship every single week. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but that is quite strange.
But imagine if it weren’t strange. Imagine if that’s just how we did Sunday gatherings. And imagine if other churches did the same. People would go to church, hear a word of encouragement from others in the community, maybe give one themselves, sing some hymns, and pray for one another. On top of that, since nobody is exactly keeping office hours, when people feel down or need counseling, they reach out to mature believers within the community, fostering even deeper and more meaningful relationships.
And imagine the effect this would have on the culture. Nobody would be able to point to hypocrisy in the clergy, because no clergy would exist. No giant scandals regarding priests or televangelists would ever shock the world. If mega churches could even exist in this environment, the only staff would be the people who keep the lights on and make sure the bills are paid. Christians wouldn’t feel like they were just laypeople who could never measure up to the super Christians who are paid to study the Bible and pray and preach three sermons every Sunday. And the unbelieving world wouldn’t feel intimidated or otherwise put off by the moral superiority of the sometimes strangely unapproachable person behind the pulpit.
Of course, there’s a lot to say about the need for strong leadership in the body. And there’s plenty of innocently heretical teaching that could arise in such an environment. And there’s plenty to say about God’s sovereignty in guiding the church to where we are today.
It’s just interesting to imagine such a world.