6 Conditions that Foster Effective Lay Ministry

Effective lay ministry in either the parish or the diocesan setting demands today a spirit of collaboration or partnership. This is not to say that all vocations are the same, but each demands a profound understanding of the other as a means of more clearly passing on the faith to young people. A united front is the Church’s best means of evangelization.

Legitimacy: Pastoral leadership necessitates this level of trust. Practically and leadership depends on the consent of the group. To be effective, people in leadership positions must be accepted by the rest of us.

Authenticity of Ministry: A CEO of a corporation finds it difficult to consider a temp his or her equal. If however, the leader sees a spirit of loyalty and common commitment to the mission of the organization, partnership is possible.

Conflict: Conflict is a necessary step to wholeness in the area of life and thus ministry. Relational ministry and working collaboratively demands a level of “play”, seeing neither side as dominant but both as complementary.

Stewardship: The layman finds peace in knowing that his pastor isn’t spending all of the collection on rounds of golf and the pastor gains reassurance when the youth minister is appropriating his or her time wisely.

Sharing of Power: A mindset of abundance towards power reflects the movements of the Holy Spirit, certainly in the early Church and still today.

Obedience: Obedience is more than submission to another. Obedience is wrapped up in the essence of belonging. When one fully belongs, one fully obeys.

These six powerful components can truly help clergy, religious and laypeople work together for and through the Church. In the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, let us strive for unity, based in the diversity of our vocations, for the sake of youth.

(Michael K. St. Pierre is a teacher of theology at Oratory Prep School in Summit, NJ, and co-founder of CatholicVentures.com. Mr. St. Pierre wishes to acknowledge that concepts for this article were taken from James and Evelyn Eaton Whitehead's “The Promise of Partnership: Leadership and Ministry in an Adult Church,” HarperCollins Publishers, 1991.)

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