Caterpillar to Butterfly: Clergy/Laity System– TO – Priesthood of Believers

From Caterpillar to Cocoon to Butterfly – Part IX

In this series we have been asking the question, “What happens with metamorphosis during the cocoon stage?”  How, structurally, do you get a butterfly from what once was a caterpillar? In my Aug. 20, 2011’s blog, I listed several forms of transformation that I see occurring inside the cocoon of change for the church.   Today we will look at the principle: Develops & maintains clergy/laity identity (caterpillar) TO Develops & maintains priesthood of believers (butterfly).

Caterpillar: Even the first century church has had to face the challenge of going from an organic organism to an organization. Built on the relationship of the twelve disciples, now apostles, with Jesus when He lived on earth, relationships were being established throughout the known world as the gospel went forth. Leadership was based on what people were doing, serving.  As time pass, the church felt the need for organization, thus leadership soon became positional, offices were created, and eventually the Roman Catholic Church established a clear clergy/laity structure to the point that the laity had to rely on the clergy for all their spirituality.  The Protestant Reformation produced many church models of lay leadership, one called the “free ministry” were leadership maintain working in the secular world, not getting paid for their spiritual involvement.  Today, the professional system of pastors and staff dominates a clergy laden hierarchy of leadership as the church feels entrenched in that system.

Butterfly:  The church is in a transformational stage of leadership if it adheres to the “equipping the saints for the work of service” because under that system the “saints” not the “staff” will be “serving” one another out of relationships on a linear, flat line, flat world platform.  Leadership will be developed out of deepening relationships that produce respect and accountability. The Priesthood of believers is based on a corporate view of the body of Christ, not individuals.  Priesthood means many priests, serving together, serving each other, edifying one another and the body of Christ as a whole. This will provide the stage for the five fold to be passions and points of view of common believers who are accountable to each other relationally on a linear basis.

The Differences: The priest/clergy system maintains a pyramidal structure of leadership by office and position.  The “Priesthood of Believers” develops a linear system built on individual gifting of service to and from one another than benefits the individual to become more Christ like in maturity while benefiting the church corporately as a whole bringing unity.

Implications Today:  Going from a clergy/laity divide mindset to a non-clergy priesthood of believers will be challenging because the clergy/laity mentality has become engrained into the woven fabric of the current church make up for centuries.  To think differently conjures up the accusation of heresy among the Pharisees of today’s church.  To think that the laity would have no clergy “to follow” seems ludicrous to them.  When I have seen the Holy Spirit move in a “revival” spirit, it is usually with grass roots believers, and is usually criticized and opposed by the institutional church and its leadership structure.  If laity is to rise to the prominence of church leadership, they need to be “equipped” for the “work of service”.  The only way this transition can be smooth is if the church begins the “equipping of the saints” process.

Conclusion:  If the clergy ever wants to see their laity rise to “serve”, they will have to practice I John 3:16 of “laying down their lives for their brethren” by serving them for the purpose of “equipping”.  Future leadership will be based on how you serve one another linearly, horizontally in relationships.  If you have truly “equip” the saints for service, then “release” them to serve in the passion and strength of their gifting, they should replace you, putting you out of a job.  The current clergy/laity system always brings in a new clergy from outside the local body of Christ to lead rather than equip lay leaders to replace them, the trend for change to create butterflies.