A Lay Minister is not meant to be a Mini-Priest.
So why do we choose so many people for the role of Lay Minister who look, sound and act like partially licensed parish priests?
Wouldn’t it be great to have Lay Ministers who aren’t chosen because they can fill the church service rota but because they can fulfil a specific role outside the church?
In this schema, the ideal Lay Minister would be:
Extra-church – focused on an area of ministry outside the church where it would be valuable to be trained and commissioned
Representative – of the church in a formal way, probably because they are working within an organisation
Accountable – in a personal relationship with a partner within the church
In this schema, the ideal Lay Minister would not be:
A mini-priest within the church, a sort of priethood-lite.
I’m not denying that the work of the priest should be shared, and that some Lay Ministry is required to sustain the ministry of the church week by week. I’m just reflecting that I’ve never seen a Lay Minister who has been trained and commissioned to a ministry outside the church.
Let’s have Lay Ministers who work in schools, football teams, or with responsibility for particular High Street shops, or health clubs.