The Critical Role of the Laity

This is a simple plea. Laity, step up and be counted.

Methodism, like any properly structured collection of Christians, traditionally has emphasized the leadership of spiritually mature, scripturally astute lay people. Clergy have an important role, too, but these professionals have failed in their role if there is no vibrant community of lay people once they’ve done their work. Clergy exist to equip the laity to do the work of the kingdom, not to perform that work in their stead.

If the work of the Wesleyan Covenant Association is to succeed, orthodox lay people who have immersed themselves in God’s word must take a more active role. As a clergy person, let me put it this way: Please, don’t wait on us.

In places where you see clergy leading, pull alongside them, quickly, so their strength does not flag. In places where you don’t see clergy leading, respectfully challenge what is going on, letting the Bible be your guide and the source of your authority.

Some helpful actions:

  1. Pray for your pastors. Pray hard; pray they hear directly from the Holy Spirit. Ask they be inspired to teach and preach from God’s word. Seek for them a clear sense of assurance that what they find in the Bible can be declared with confidence.
  2. Encourage your pastors to be in small groups, either with other clergy or mixing with mature lay people. These groups should, in particular, emphasize how we live what Scripture teaches us.
  3. Ask the right questions. What is your church doing to execute the basic mission Jesus gave us? (Matthew 28:19-20) What is your church’s position on scriptural authority? How deep is the average church member’s understanding of the Bible, and what is being done to grow that understanding?
  4. Gather as laity. You have the right to band together in small groups any time you want. If you’re starting a group, a good resource would be Kevin M. Watson’s “The Class Meeting: Reclaiming a Forgotten (and Essential) Small Group Experience.”
  5. Join the Wesleyan Covenant Association. We need joiners, not watchers.

The Holy Spirit already is with you, beautiful lay folk. Be the blessing to the kingdom you are called to be.


Chuck Griffin is an ordained elder serving in the Hiwassee District.

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