I don’t believe that there are any lay people. The Bible says that Christ-followers are “kings and priests.” The Protestant Reformers taught the priesthood of the believer (however, they weren’t very good at actually implementing it since they all established a clergy/laity system that continues till this day).
I’ve discovered that God’s ordinary people are eloquent and extraordinary! I was saved during the Jesus Movement and saw hundreds of ordinary people proclaiming and demonstrating the presence and power of the living Jesus. I was a team member on many “Lay Witness” Missions” and heard and saw everyday Christians spark church awakening after church awaking by simply sharing their salvation testimony.
I’ve heard too many ordinary Christians to count open their heart to God and passionately pray in a way that moved me in my innermost being. I’ve seen far more everyday Christ-followers operate in the gifts of the Spirit than I have clergy.
As a new Christian God gave me a vision of everyday Christians meeting together to all directly listen to and obey the risen Jesus. As the Jesus Movement began to die down, I moved around the country looking for a place that allowed “lay people” to speak out in church as prompted by God’s Spirit, but never found such a thing. Finally, God led my wife and me to start such gatherings.
For a year we met with two other couples in our home and followed the biblical pattern of 1 Corinthians 14:26. It was awesome! Then we found and joined a church that had an open mic and let anyone present speak. We loved that, but after a year they closed down the open mic.
After that we started a church in the old black neighborhood of Franklin, Tennessee. There anyone could share as led by God’ Spirit. What an awesome time of seeing God connect people heart-to-heart interracially. We even joined a black denomination.
Eventually The Salvation Army supernaturally opened a door for us and invited us to start a “nontraditional church” in an empty “corps” (church) building in inner city Nashville. That lasted for 10 years and in all that time we never had a sermon. However, we did experience the glory of God flowing out of ordinary people as they testified, shared Scriptures, gave short teaching, prayed, shared prayer request, confessed sins, flowed in spiritual gifts, started songs, and praised God. This was all strongly supported by many leaders in The Salvation Army. Finally, a new leader was put over Nashville who ordered us to follow the traditional sermon format. The pressure was so great we felt we had no choice but to resign.
Shortly after that God supernaturally opened a door for my wife and me and another couple to lead a ministry on the campus of a local auto/diesel college. We sit with a group of young men and encourage them to talk and share their heart and God shows up!
God recently led us to step out of the college ministry and last week was our last meeting. Now we are eagerly anticipating God’s next open doors. Like Simeon and Anna, as ordinary people we’re ready to speak up for Jesus and to encourage and empower other everyday Christians to do likewise.
Simeon and Anna spoke out during a religious ceremony in the New Testament because they recognized the living Jesus. May the same thing happen to us!