Christianity is a Lay Movement

Apr 17, 2017

Christianity is a lay-driven movement, not a preacher-driven one. Each of us is to have a personal relationship with Christ, a deep knowledge of the Bible gained through Bible study, an ability to hear and follow God’s Indwelling Spirit, a body of experience of who God is in our own lives, knowledge of our own purpose as revealed to us by God and a living-out of that purpose in the world.

Then we individuals, dedicated to God, join together in community, hire a preacher and staff and continue with our faith-driven lives in community with others. But the undergirding of each church is to be each person with their lives firmly anchored in God.

So we don’t depend on the preacher to lead us, perhaps only to inspire us. We depend on God to lead us day-by-day. We don’t look to someone else for what God is saying in this passage; we ask God what He is trying to tell us in the story before us. We don’t just go to church and figure that we are done for the week. We have a daily practice of Bible reading and sitting in His presence, of listening for the Indwelling Spirit of God and what He wants us to do right now, and in the next minute and the next. We hold to all the Law and Commandments, as encapsulated in Jesus’ Two Great Commandments, every day in everything we do—in the workplace, in how we treat everyone, in whom we serve.

Another thing about a preacher: he is not above everyone else. He is not more holy than anyone else. He is called to preach, just as others are “given through the Spirit” [1 Corinthians 12:8-11] a message of wisdom, or of knowledge, or gift of faith or healing or miraculous powers or prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in tongues or interpreting tongues and more. All of these gifts are needed in the church, all are equally given and essential. No one stands above anyone else. And each one needs that deep relationship with God to be granted these gifts and the Spirit which will support the gift. “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” [1 Corinthians 12:12-13] We are to be interdependent among ourselves in order to act as one body, first each one dependent on God.

We look to God to define our purpose, to show us what it is and how we are to go about it. We act in the power of the Holy Spirit in all that we do—our work, our families and relationships, our hobbies—everything in our lives. We serve the Lord in every area of our lives.

We are learning and growing and being healed and transformed through our ever-deepening relationship with the Lord. We do not look to any outer authority to tell us who we are or what we are to do, only to the Indwelling Spirit of God. He is the ultimate teacher of all that we are to learn.

Of course, this is the ideal church, the whole body of Jesus Christ. The loss of stature in Christianity today, at least in the Western world, is due to so few of us actually living the life and demonstrating what the love of God actually looks like in the life of a person in the “real world.” Few are now drawn to the religion and its adherents who are more apt to argue about doctrine than to be demonstrating love in this world. It seems that Christianity as practiced in the late 20th and early 21st centuries is more a political movement than a spiritual one. When we care more about our political agenda than we do about the character of the people running the country, then we Christians are not “rendering unto God what is God” and giving everything else to Caesar. [Mark 12:17]

If Christianity is a lay movement, then each of us must hold fast to the truths of Jesus’ teachings in our lives and refuse to play the “religious game,” trying to get by with simple belief and not letting those beliefs change us at all. We must hold true to what we believe, but, more importantly, we must serve the Lord in everything we do, not by our will, but by His alone. We must align our will with His and forget about our way of doing life. We must listen to His “still, small voice” [1 Kings 19:12] and follow whatever it suggests. We must treat everyone with love and patience and dignity; we must follow God until he bestows on us the ability to love with the whole fruit of the Spirit [Galatians 5:23-25]—peace, joy, love, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

If enough of us will serve God with all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds, and all our strength, then the church of Jesus Christ will light up this world with the glory of the Lord, and so many more will be attracted to the light on the hill that He provides. It all starts with you and me.


Questions to ponder over the week: Am I putting my all into the relationship with Christ? Do I have a daily practice of study and silence with God? Am I depending on others in my church to be the “rock” or can others depend on me to be that “rock” of faith in Christ? What would I have to do to contribute my life to God in all areas of my life?


Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who, as lay people or clergy, put God first in every area of our lives. May we reap the blessings and grace of a deep relationship with God. May we trust the Lord in all things.


Link to my website for the full blog for this week and the archives of my blog going back to 2011 at


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