This “practice of evangelicalism” is actually the practice of the 2%. They call the shots. The chances that the most anointed preacher in the congregation is in the 2% group instead of the 98% group are mathematically very slim. Yet the way it is insists only the licensed can preach the word sunday morning.
How can it be that 2% control 98%?
The 2% ministerial are organized and the 98% ‘laity’ are not. This gives the 2% considerable leverage. The 2% have control of the pulpit; they who control the pulpit control the church. (See note.)
Is it working?
To determine the worth of the evangelical way, one simply needs to observe evangelicals. The measurement can’t be activity, not organizational skills, not quantity of prayer, or size of congregation. The measurement must be quality of relationship between evangelicals and the Lord Jesus Christ. If one determines the relationship to be healthy one can conclude that, yes, it is working. But if the answer is no then the answer is no.
But isn’t leadership a good thing?
Leadership is a very good thing. Organized leadership is a very bad thing.
The father in the family is a leader. But organizing the fathers in the neighborhood to collectively give leadership to their families is a bad thing. It is not God’s way.
A disciple of Christ is a christian who has given himself over to obedience to Christ. An evangelical is a christian who has given himself over to obedience to evangelicalism. The evangelicals most firmly tethered to evangelicalism are in the ministerial.
Every disciple of Christ is a good leader. Quality leadership is leading by example and by speaking “the truth in love”.
What is Christ’s way?
Christ’s way is “one another” ministry….
Romans 14:19 (NLT): Let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.
1 Corinthians 3:10: I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.
1 Corinthians 12:7: The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.
1 Corinthians 12:8: To one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge.
1 Corinthians 12:10: To another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
1 Corinthians 12:11: One and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
1 Corinthians 12:25: There should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.
1 Corinthians 14:26: Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation.
1 Corinthians 14:31: You can all prophecy one by one, that all may learn and be encouraged.
1 Corinthians 14:39: Brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy.
Ephesians 4:16: The whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body.
Ephesians 5:19: Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.
Colossians 3:16: Teaching and admonishing one another.
Hebrews 10:25: Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another.
1 Peter 4:10: As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another.
Combined, these verses make a serious indictment against the very existence of the 2% ministerial. The evangelical way is contrary to Christ’s way. If the ministerial really was God, it would have God stamped on it throughout the New Testament. It doesn’t.
Paul’s letters to the churches were directed to the 100%. The 2% aren’t mentioned because in his mind they didn’t exist. Same with the 98%; they also didn’t exist.
So what’s the answer?
The answer is an open pulpit. The ideal is the Holy Spirit speaking through His choice whenever He chooses. With Him there is no partisanship, credentials are meaningless, all would have equal opportunity.
But is an open pulpit practical… possible?
An open pulpit must be a protected pulpit, protected by a few simple rules determined by all, and protected by serious prayer. If the world can send men to the moon surely evangelicals can figure out how to have a protected open pulpit in their services. Nothing works perfectly, but an open pulpit would be a vast improvement over a solo ministry.
Will we ever see an open pulpit in the evangelical church?
Probably not. An open pulpit would actually be the doom of evangelicalism. Justifying the existence of the ministerial would be difficult as the laity begin to understand they are not laity and the credentialed have no special rank.
So what does a ‘layman’ do?
Repent. The answer to most, if not all, problems is repentance.
Galatians 5:1: Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
The layman was free (“Christ has made us free”) and returned “again with the yoke of bondage”. He who was yoked to Christ by Christ allowed himself to be yoked to another by another. If one has allowed others to label him, to dictate to him, to direct his life, he simply has to place himself, again, under the lordship of “the head of the church”.
Christ’s preachers do not need evangelicalism to provide an audience. “The fields are already ripe for harvest.” There is a shortage of able laborers, those dedicated solely to “Jesus Christ and Him crucified”. If every evangelical committed his/her christianity solely to Christ much more fruit would be forthcoming. “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit.”
A layman must cease being a layman. His thinking must be Christ’s thinking: In Christ’s church there are no classes, no division, no 2%, and no 98%.
And the salaried minister?
The answer is the same: repentance. He, too, has exchanged the lordship of Christ and the governance of the Holy Spirit for the lordship of man, his ecclesiastical superiors. The christian serving christians will possibly (probably?) never hear those words we should all ache to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant”.
Note: Pulpit Power is a full-length novel (available at larryjones.ca) intended to demonstrate the power of the pulpit in the local church. Starring in Pulpit Power are Pastor Mac, his wife Vivian, their two teens, Katie and Kyle, and Roo the plumber, his wife Jenny, their son John Douglas, and Tree and his family, and the board of elders at Bryden Falls Community Christian Center, and the Challengers baseball team, and some etceteras. The setting for Pulpit Power is Bryden Falls, “skirting the Canada-U.S. border, somewhere in western Canada”.