Five-hundred years ago, the Protestant Reformers reasserted some central theological principles in response to various abuses that were taking place in the Catholic Church. Principles such as, “You can’t sell salvation to make money.” “We are saved by Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone.” One oft-neglected aspect of the Reformation is its emphasis upon the “priesthood of all believers.” Martin Luther put it like this: “Let everyone who knows himself a Christian be assured of this—that we are all priests, and there is no difference between us.”

This Reformation emphasis on the priesthood of all believers is certainly one which the fellowship of the Churches of Christ have inherited. I have heard many times in my life the saying that every Christian is a minister. Such an emphasis is based on verses like I Peter 2:9 or Revelation 1:5-6: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins, and has made us to be a kingdom of priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”

Think about what these verses mean: You don’t have to be an ordained minister to lead prayer, to preside over communion, to preach the Good News of Jesus, to strive for peace and justice in the world. Though some of us do serve full-time as ministers (ahem!), we are not some distinct species of human. The truth is that God calls every follower of Jesus into various aspects of service. If you’re a baptized believer, you’ve been ordained to Christ’s service. Go ahead and add this title to your online profile: “Minister of Jesus.”

One of the ways we desire to make the priesthood of all believers practical in our congregation is by helping each other grow in various practices of ministry. Since the practices of the Christian life are “better caught than taught,” equipping others for service takes place through mentoring relationships in which various Christian practices are modeled and emulated. Equipping can take place in classes as helpers watch teachers nurture students; at summer camps and Vacation Bible School where teen volunteers are guided by adult mentors; at small groups where experienced leaders provide emerging teachers the opportunity to lead; in pastoral visits and Bible studies in which an experienced leader brings a mentee along to “learn the ropes.”

The process of learning to follow Jesus and serve others is best accomplished through equipping relationships based on trust and shared learning. May God bless us as each of us grows in our unique ministry capacities as we team up with and learn from those who are wiser and more experienced.

Andy Wall
Author: Andy Wall