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Jul 18, 2006

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Dave Moody

Michael,
Great post. And I mean that. Even, or perhaps especially, as a guy who wears a collar (metaphorically speaking...).

My observation- four years as an ordained minister of word and sacrament, and 30 something as an 'idiot'- is that this is a two way/co-dependent mutually enabling dynamic- the clergy/laity thing. I *think* I would dearly love for God's people here to adopt the moniker 'minister member' for real. I've even told them- the only thing I can do better than any of you, is parse greek verbs! - but many are afraid to do it. They've been trained to be consumers by the culture, and some (some) get down right resentful when reminded that this ain't the case!

Sometimes I hear, and perhaps not acurately, that the clergy keep God's people from doing ministry by continually reinforcing the professional nature of it. I've not seen that, in my experience. I have experienced though- people being very angry and calling me- when I sent an elder to pray for someone, instead of me going, because I was otherwise occupied at the time. "It means so much more, pastor" And I could name off several other instances where, "I don't know why he makes us do this, thats the pastor's job" is bandied about, supposedly out of ear shot.

My thinking in this is that there's a need for repentence on both sides of our current divide-- and the laos tou theou need to recapture the apostolic understanding of church as body with a purpose/mission. We need a paradigm shift culturally. And I don't know how to do that gracefully.

I would happlily give up the title Rev. and be plain ol' Dave the guy who teaches, studies and preaches. Of course I'd have to figure out how to make money parsing greek verbs...

Thanks again for such thought provoking posts.
grace & peace,
dm

Michael Kruse

A wonderful testimony Dave. Thanks!

At the end of one of Woody Allen's movies (I think Annie Hall) he tells of a visit to his psychiatrist. It goes something like this:

“I went to my psychiatrist the other day. I told him I have a friend who thinks he is a chicken. My psychiatrist asked me if I had told my friend that he is not a chicken. I told him hadn’t. My psychiatrist asked me why I hadn’t. I told him it was because I need the eggs.”

The “laity” think they “need the eggs” the chickens (clergy) are laying. Stop producing eggs and you will one day have your neck wrung, and you will be fried and served for a church dinner. You are absolutely right.

The problem won’t be solved without EVERYONE coming to clarity. Too often, “priesthood of believers” talk is subterfuge for ecclesiastical power struggles. The congregants have no intention of engaging the world in ministry. I hope the coming posts will make this point.

Thanks again. Your predicament is one I hear over and over from pastors.

David

Preach it, Michael! This is a great post: well considered and thoughtful.

I actually think there are two obstacles to a world in which all of the saints are involved in doing ministry: The first obstacle is well described by Dave: laity that wants the hired help (aka pastors) to do the heavy lifting in ministry.

The second obstacle is put up by pastors who don't want to give up control / authority / privilege. This reluctance can be for good reasons (There are a lot of "idiots" out there who will commit abuse in the name of ministry) or bad reasons (I make a LOT of money because I'm "special" and can perform weddings and baptisms).

It seems to me that making the transition out of duality will require the laity to give up the narcotic of consumerism and the clergy to give up the narcotic of power. History suggests neither addiction will be easy to break.

However, the opportunities for ministry, once we eliminate the sacred cow of ordination, would seem to compel us forward, letting go of our addictions.


Thanks for pointing the way.

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