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Risking Lay Ministry

An essential step in preparing people to minister is to encourage them to be willing to take big risks.

Every pastor I know affirms the priesthood of all believers and that every Christian is called to ministry, including the one of providing pastoral care for one another. But most also admit there's a big gap between the actual and desired level of lay ministry.

One reason for this, I believe, is that releasing people to minister involves risks, both for pastor and people. For the pastor, it means giving up control, shedding the "I can handle it" image. For lay people, it means taking on responsibilities bigger than they've ever imagined, tackling situations in which they might not have all the answers, providing pastoral care when they seem to have few resources. And that's scary.

I once had the chance to ask the Swiss physician Paul Tournier, "How do you help your patients get rid of their fears?"

"I don't," he said. "Everything that's worthwhile in life is scary. Choosing a school, choosing a career, getting married, having kids—all those things are scary. If it is not fearful, it ...

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