Sunday, June 26, 2022

Clergy and Lai...lai...laity...

There are some terms that need to be eradicated from our speech.  I believe that "laity" is one of those words and on this trip to Asia, we are passing that message on.  There is lots of support for this by different theologians and authors:

Eugene Peterson, in his book The Jesus Way, says "Within the Christian community, there are few words that are more disabling than 'layperson' and 'laity.'  The words convey the impression - an impression that quickly solidifies into a lie - that there is a two-level hierarchy among the men and women who follow Jesus...It is a lie because it misleads a huge company of Christians into assuming that their workplace severely limits their usefulness in the cause of Christ, that it necessarily confines them to part-time work for Jesus as they help out on the margins of Kingdom work."

John Stott said that laity is often a synonym for "amateur as opposed to professional" or "unqualified as opposed to expert."

Author Paul Stevens says that the words "only a layperson" is a phrase that should never be found on our lips as it is irreverent and demeaning.

The main objection to the word "laity" is what it does to the identity of the majority of believers in the Global Church, leading to a huge crippling effect in the body of Christ.

What is the history of this word "laity"?  Theologian and author Larry Peabody tells us that typically people have thought it comes from the Greek word "laos" which simply means "people" and this word occurs 142 times in the Greek New Testament.  But this word shows no distinction between people - it refers to all people.  In contrast, the Greek word "laikos" was first used by Clement of Rome in 96 AD and this word referred to the "common people."  The "uncommon people" were the high priests, priests, and Levites, and eventually this group was called the "clergy."  Clement wrote that the "laikos" or laymen were bound by laws that pertained to them.  

From here, it's not such a far leap to hear the familiar disqualifying sentence, "I'm just a layperson."  We see this in churches around the world.  

This is not a small problem.  It is a significant problem.  

But the good news is that there is a huge opportunity to refute this lie and release the potential of 95% of Christians to be ambassadors for Christ in every space and place.

We thank God for the testimonies we are hearing so far from people saying "Amen" and recognizing that we all called.  We heard from multiple people this week of the amount of guilt that they have because of their busyness with work and family and not doing enough for the church building.  This message has caused them to see that they are the church in their workplace and with their family.  The church rather can begin to support them in their frontlines.  

Please keep praying that this message will continue to go out and people will begin to reclaim every workplace and every frontline for God.

Monday, June 6, 2022

"The Movement is On"

Almost every morning when I awake, there are approximately 30-40 WhatsApp messages on my phone.  Most of these are from our DML teams who are posting about their work.  The teams cross a number of time zones, so while I sleep, the work continues.  It's a reminder to me that we have a God who neither slumbers nor sleeps, and because of the range of places where the DML message is being communicated, it feels like the work of DML goes 24/7 as well.

But this past week, the number of messages I was receiving every morning was higher - probably 50-60 messages, and then countless more during the day.  It was picture after picture of work being done in new cities, new churches, and new denominations.  Pictures were coming from Gulu, Uganda, to the Anglican Church in Kenya, to Brekum, Ghana.  At one point, one of our leaders responded to the group chat saying, "The Movement is on, praise God!"  To which many others responded, "A powerful movement of God!"

What a privilege and joy to see the excitement from the teams as they engage with pastors, church leaders, and business owners to share the good news about work as calling and work as worship!  

To help illustrate how busy our teams were, let me share some of the numbers of those reached just in the first quarter (January-March) of this year:

  • 1,081 people sat through the DML foundational workshop, learning about the God of business from the Old and New Testament
  • 1,714 business owners went through a business training which will help them increase profit and household income and create more jobs.
  • 2,061 businesses engaged in mentoring, helping to make their business stronger and sustainable.

When we see some of those numbers, we can believe that a "movement is on," led by God the Father, through Jesus the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit!

Let me share some of the pictures that I received this week with you:

The team in Gulu, Uganda.  Many churches will now begin their "business month" where the pastors will preach and teach on the God of Business over the course of four Sundays.
The Anglican Church in Kenya which commissioned this group this past weekend as "Ambassadors for Christ in the Marketplace."

The attendees from the DML training in Brekum, Ghana.  The DML leaders in Ghana have been intentional about calling this a "movement" since 2019 and have intentionally sought out leaders from many denominations across the country.

On Friday morning, my phone also had the following worship video from the workshop in Uganda.  I love worship in Africa as it is so expressive, and this video does not disappoint.  Enjoy as you enter your own Monday morning worship in your workplace!

God is good, all the time!

And all the time, God is good!