There are four orders of ministers in the Church. There are bishops, priests, deacons, and lay. The Church spends a good bit of its resources on ensuring that the first three are up-to-snuff (whatever that might mean in the given context). It is generally up to those three, the ordained clergy, to disciple the fourth, the laity, and ensure their up-to-snuff-ness. Some Christians may not like that idea – they’re not “professional” Christians (ie. not clergy). Why should they have to be involved in the Church’s ministry? They were never ordained in the Church – what right do they have to tackle this task?
The old joke was that clergy-people were paid to be good, but that laypeople were good for nothing. I would dispel this idea to some extent, because I’m not paid to be good. I am not paid for services rendered. Rather, I am afforded an allowance, a stipend, by the local church (through the diocese), to allow me to live within this geographical parish. All of the “services rendered” are a function of the person I am, because of who and what God is continually making me.
In the same way, all Christians are called to ministry because ministry is the fulfillment of who and what God is making them. Lay people in the Church may not generally consider themselves to have been ordained, and perhaps they weren’t ordained to the particular ministry of the priesthood in the Church, to thus maintain the order of the Church, but something like it did happen to them. They were baptized. You were baptized.
There are so many things to be said about baptism, but I will here only point in the directions that we’re going to go in future blog posts. We can talk about baptism’s roots – where did this practise come from? was it an anomaly that sprung up in a void? We can talk about the symbolism of baptism – what is signified by the water? what is the meaning inherent in the rite? We can talk about the elements of baptism – why water? how was it instituted this way? We can talk about the vows taken in baptism – what are they? what significance do they hold? how are they practically applied to daily living? We can talk about covenantal relationship with God – what does it mean to be God’s people? We can talk about taking our own baptisms seriously.
All these and more, to come.