Three songs, pass the plate, then a 3-point sermon. Have you ever sat in church and wondered if this is as good as it gets? Is this the best of Christian life? It’s a legit question. I’ve asked it. Chances are you have too.
If so, then congratulations. You are a member of the Underground Priesthood.
Before Christ, only priests were allowed to contribute in a meaningful way on behalf of God’s people. But in the early days of the Church, each believer was called upon to bring with them a word, a song, a prayer, or really anything they could share with fellow believers at their gatherings. Each one was empowered as a priest to contribute in a meaningful way. No matter where they were in their walk with Christ, the gathering provided a safe place to exercise and cultivate the gifting God gave them. This was the Priesthood of Believers.
The result? Believers grew in their ability to use their gifts for the Kingdom, not only within their gatherings but outside them as well. New believers were added daily. In short order, the Church developed into a fully functioning organism engaged with the outside world.
But old ways die hard. Rather than living as the unique bride of Christ she is, the Church came to exist more like a human institution. Once again, only a privileged few came to enjoy the freedom of exercising their unique gifts within the body. So much so that eventually these acts of contribution became relegated to professional ministers and worship leaders.
This created two classes of believers within the Church–an upper class of priests and a lower class of laity. Participation in the gathering again became the sacred duty of professional priests–just as it had been before Jesus. Thus ascended the Priesthood of Professionals.
For centuries now the Priesthood of Believers has been driven underground by tradition, politics, and secular business models applied to the Church. And even though no such model is found in the New Testament, the professional priesthood is now the accepted model of the Church world-wide. Gifted, often celebrity, professionals contribute for us while the remainder of the body takes on the role of Sunday morning observer.
The result? Most lay Christians today truly believe their role is that of non-participating spectator. And naturally this carries into their daily walk outside the church as well. Without a safe place to develop their talents, they never gain the ability or confidence to use them anywhere.
Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. Our professional church leaders are certainly gifted of God and contribute awesome works for the body–I respect them and their work immensely. But God never meant for them to contribute alone. By not putting our own God-given talents to work, all of us–professional, layman, Christian, and unbeliever alike–are robbed of our true potential.
Underground Priesthood is written with the intent of challenging and empowering believers to retake their priestly role. Here I will post my own thoughts, provide insights from believers who operate in their priesthood, and promote the use of God-given talents to build His kingdom.
Just think how effective the Church could be in its mission if the entire body was mobilized for the effort. The only limit would be God’s own imagination.
We were meant to be more. It’s time to reclaim our priesthood.