8 Indicators That Pastors Are Expected to Do Most of the Ministry

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Okay, I admit it. I can't stand the terms.

When you even speak of clergy and laity, you are implying that Christianity has a social caste system. There are the professional Christians and the ordinary Christians.


There are points in Scripture where some differentiation is made. For example, in Ephesians 4:11-12, Paul said God gave us "pastors and teachers for the training of the saints in the work of ministry to build up the body of Christ."

Contrary to most of the indicators today, the Bible says the laity (saints) are to do the work of ministry. Most of the ministry should not be in the hands of pastors, but in the hands of the church members.

Unfortunately, we often reverse the biblical truth. We expect ministry to be done by the pastors and staff. Here are eight indicators of that reality.

1. "Pastor, will you ask the blessing for the meal?" If an "ordinary" Christian voices the blessing, the food will immediately turn into strychnine and maggots.

2. "The pastor needs to be on call to counsel our members." When I was a pastor, people stopped coming to me because they told me I made them feel worse.

3. "After all, pastor, that's what we pay you to do." For many Christians, ministry is pay as you go. You pay the pastor and the pastor goes.

4. "You need to host that missionary, pastor, because you are in the same line of work." I thought all Christians were in the same line of work.

5. "Here's someone you need to visit, pastor." If a non-pastor Christian visits them, the people will experience boils and locusts.

6. "I saw our pastor at a football game. Pastors are not supposed to act that way." You are exactly right. It's in Hezekiah 4:19: "Pastors are not to get excited or yell in competitive sports."

7. "I saw our pastor at the beach. He was in a swim suit!" "No, please don't say it's so. He could not have fallen that low."

8 "Pastor, I don't think my neighbor is a Christian. You need to visit them and share the gospel." Matthew 28:19 is clear: "Go, therefore, only the select few of you who are ordained and have the title of reverend, and make disciples of all nations."

I'm certain you have heard one or more of these sentences, or sentences similar to these. They are all indicators we have a long way to go before we have truly unleashed the people of God to do the work of ministry.

Originally posted at

Dr. Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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