Transforming Congregations by Igniting the Spiritual Lives, Gifts
and Ministries of the Laity

Ron Farr Send E-mail to Ron Farr, Laity Empowerment Project
Telephone: (315) 583-5821

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Laity Empowerment Mission

 

 

To establish a spiritual growth process in local congregations in which:

  • Laity awaken to the Biblical vision that all Christians (not just the ordained) are MINISTERS of God, each in their own way.

  • Laity discover their immense value and purpose as they serve God in their daily life and work.

  • Laity and clergy empower each other to discern their God-given gifts and use them in ministries in the home, workplace, church, and world.

  • Ordinary Christians learn from each other, share their faith, pray for each other, affirm each other's gifts, support each other's ministries.

  • "A community of ministers" comprised of laity and clergy share true companionship and teamwork.

What is Laity Empowerment?

The English word "laity" is derived from the Greek "laos" which means "the people of God." Before the early church evolved into a formal, stratified institution, there was little hierarchical separation between clergy and laity. Early Christians were taught to see themselves as one unified community, "the people of God." Each Christian was seen as a minister in his or her own right, each an essential part of the Body of Christ upon which all the other parts depended (I Cor 12:4-13). Some had the gift of leadership, others the gift of hospitality, or teaching, or generosity, and so on (Rom 12:3-8), and every gift was considered equally important in God's eyes.

This is what Jesus taught as well. He believed in the gifts of each follower. He told them, "You are the light of the world" (Mt 5:14). He taught them not to lord it over each other. "You are not t be called 'Rabbi," for you have only one Master and you are all brothers (and sisters)" (Mt 23:8); "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, so you also should wash one another's feet" (Jn 13:14). Jesus welded the disciples together into a community of mutuality, equality, and ministry in which each person was deeply loved and valued for who he or she was and for what he or she could uniquely offer.

Unfortunately, this spirit of mutuality among the "people of God" was fragile and easily lost. The church soon became hierarchically structured like government or military institutions. Clergy were given an elevated status. In most churches today, the tasks clergy carry out are touted as "THE ministry" of the church, whereas what laity do is considered to be merely "volunteer work."

Usually laity do not think of themselves as full-fledged ministers of Christ in their daily life and work. They generally assume clergy are "closer to God" than they are, and expect more from the clergy spiritually than they do of themselves. Clergy, on the other hand, commonly do not know how to find true spiritual companions among the laity and feel they must "escape" the church be spiritually nurtured. The result of such views is passivity and boredom in the laity, and isolation and burnout in the clergy. Everyone losses.

Laity empowerment is about helping ordinary Christians claim their own relationships with God and discover their immense value and purpose as ministers of Christ in their daily life and work. Laity empowerment is about recognizing , valuing and igniting into full flame the spiritual lives and ministries of not just the clergy, but EVERY member of the congregation.

Laity empowerment is also about building Christian community in which there is true companionship and teamwork between clergy and laity, in which each person in the congregation actively ministers to everyone else in the church. Laity empowerment is MUTUAL EMPOWERMENT where Christians do not look primarily to "experts" for their inspiration, spiritual nourishment, and support, but instead receive these things from EVERYONE in the group as they share their faith with each other, love and listen to each other, pray for each other, discern one another's gifts, and support each other's ministries.

The Laity Empowerment Project seeks to provide a catalytic program for local churches wishing to spur on this kind of congregational transformation!

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