The vast majority of Christians are, of course, laymen. It is often said that they are closer to “the world” and its concrete problems and evils and opportunities than clergy. And it is certainly true that “the world” will take its measure of our Christianity, not so much by what ministers say in church on Sunday, as by what laymen do from Monday till Friday on their jobs.

This may make the work of a minister seem remote and even a little irrelevant. And, unless a minister is talking right to the practical minds of his laymen, dealing with life situations such as they meet day by day, and (as they would put it) “talking sense,” his work may indeed be very far removed from the life his people must live and especially from the work that they must do. Unless the minister is close to people—people in the raw, people in their shirt sleeves—he may very well spend his major time in a little church world of his own, from which he emerges for an hour on Sunday morning and about which he talks, sometimes interestingly, sometimes dully; but often seeming to belong to a completely different world from his hearers.

A Coach To Laymen

Now the minister is supposed to know more about the technicalities of the Christian religion—its beliefs, its history, its relation to modern thought—than a layman will probably have time to know. He ought to be invaluable to laymen as a kind of research expert, helping to avoid mistakes, bringing historic corrective, et cetera. He ought to do more than this, and specifically two things: first, he ought to know human nature, and to be familiar with God’s ways with men, not alone from books on religious experience and psychology, but from continuing ...

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