United Methodists celebrate laity Sunday on the third Sunday of October. Or as one UMC conference website writes: “Laity Sunday is a day designed for the lay members of local congregations around the World to lead the worship service and to give the clergy a much needed time away from the pulpit.”
This attitude is why I have a problem with things like laity Sunday. I think that churches–especially in small churches–work best when the roles of laity and clergy are not so well defined. You know, the pastor preaches from the pulpit and the congregation tries its best to pay attention.
In my experience, that type of relationship doesn’t work for laity or clergy. The laity gets bored and the clergy get burned out. Plus, relying on clergy to get things done gets real expensive. Most smaller churches can’t be effective if most of their resources are being used to pay for the building and to pay salary.
I think clergy are most effective when they use their knowledge, experience, and theological training to teach and train laity to become active leaders in the community and in the church. I Instead of spending a good chunk of time writing sermons, I have come to believe that clergy–especially in small church settings– are at their best when they are intentionally teaching laity to think and act theologically. In this manner, churches could serve as mini-seminaries and instead of one pastor with too much to do, you’d have a congregation full of theologically trained and active laity. Instead of one pastor, you might get twenty pastors!
Simply put, Laity Sunday should be every Sunday.