The term is meant to represent persons who either don’t know as much as someone else, say like a pastor, or has no assigned function during service. In any meaning it is not a biblical term, nor is it representative of Christ. For which part of Christ’s body does not have a function? Every member of the body of Christ has a function, a calling, and a responsibility in the service and in the world. If not, it is cast aside and burned in the fire.
This term is responsible for alienating a whole group of people who feel like they have no part in the congregation, or that their only function is to be seated in order for the pastor to have someone to minister to. Therefore, we have some who come to service and do nothing, because they feel like they are not needed, or not accepted as those who work, or hold an office in the congregation. Jesus rejected this notion when he spoke against the Pharisees who thought they were more important because they had a great position in the temple. Nay, the people who are more important are the people who don’t hold any position in the congregation, because they meet newcomers first. Therefore, the way they are treated is the way they will treat guests. If you make them feel less important, in order to feel important they; will make the guest feel less important.
Rather, we must empower this group of people who are in fact the forerunners in the congregation. Their life, the way they present themselves, and the way they treat guest will determine if the guest stays, or returns. Furthermore, the purpose of the so called lay member is to learn the ways of Christ, and then perform them. They are to grow in Christ and become leaders themselves. Not stay in a particular congregation all their life and never grow beyond the four walls of one worship center.
The worship center should be a revolving door where new people come in, learn to follow, hear, and obey Christ on their own. Then when God says it’s time, they should leave, begin their own ministry (not necessarily a congregation) and make room for someone else to take their place.
Pastors, we must delight in the sending forth of new leaders into the vineyard, but instead we have become people hogs. We want to keep everyone to ourselves, and then let none go. You are, and have hindered many who God has sent forth. Many who would have been a great help to you, you have denied their gifting, and diminished their anointing in order to make yourself look good. God have mercy on your soul, for he has never given you people to rule, but to lead, to teach, and to empower. The congregation, and thereby the worship center is a learning center for all people. I challenge you to throw out the term “Lay Members”, and empower all people to serve God in the way he has chosen them to serve him. It’s not about us, but about Him.
A better term would be Students Of The Kingdom, because they are being groomed by the Lord. They are having their senses exercised to discern between good and evil, and we never stop being students of the kingdom.
However, don’t fool yourself, not all those who don’t hold an office, or are not on the choir stand, and the usher board. Some of them God himself have placed them there to pray you through, to carry you in the spirit, to combat demons who seek to interrupt the flow of God, and to interceed and cover new believers. Not from the pulpit, not from the choir and not from the ministrerial Staff, but right from the pew. They war in the spirit; they are there during service, and as soon as the benediction is done they are in the wind; because they are on a mission from God, and they can’t sit around chit-chatting about nothing.
We must change our view of those who we feel are not working in the service. Some of them are working, only not in ways that you can measure.