The concept of the priesthood of all believers is readily assented to by most Protestants. Ask the following question, “Do you believe all members of the local church are responsible for doing ministry?” You will undoubtedly see most people in your congregation bobbing their heads up and down in agreement. But when you look around the church building, you still see the usual 10% of the congregation doing 90% of the work. Why is there such a large disconnect between our words and our actions?
I think much of the disconnect lies in how we view church. I believe most of evangelical Christians view church as a house of teaching and as a house of worship. They watch the pastor preach and agree that all people should be willing to preach and teach. Yet, most members do not have a regular opportunity to preach a sermon or to teach a Sunday school class. And even fewer have the musical skills necessary to lead the praise team. Thus, our members are agreeing to do that which their church will never ask them to do.
While church most definitely consists of making much of God through worship and through preaching, it also includes discipleship. This is where the rubber meets the road. Not all are called to preach or to play the piano. But all church members are called to make disciples by regularly sharing the Word in their homes, business, and communities. This is where the democratization of the Christian life is supposed to occur. All of us should be answering phone calls, knocking on doors, and sitting in living rooms to encourage and admonish our brothers and sisters in Christ and to be encouraged and admonished by our brothers and sisters. Not all are called to be pastors, teachers, or elders. But all Christians are called to be counselors.
Yet few Christians do this. When we encounter sin, we tell our friends to talk to the pastor. When our kids have questions about salvation, we ask the pastor to disciple them. We feel completely incompetent to share the gospel with others.
To fix this problem, we must once again realize that the Scriptures are sufficient both for our salvation and for solving all our life’s problems. We must seek out the Word. We must hide it in our hearts. And we must seek out faithful men and women to help us with our walk. We must seek out discipleship for the very purpose of seeing our own faith expanded and deepened. As we grow, we will be more ready to disciple others.
At the end of the day, we do not have to be scared of counseling. The ability to change and help people has never resided in us. God alone can and does change people with his Word. Do we know it well enough to share this power with others?