Talk 3: Laity

Key points:
  • The Laity are the Church.
  • The ‘Body of Christ’ (the Church) is made up of many unique and important members.
  • The clergy may represent the Church, but the Laity are the “church” most people meet.
  1. We are the people who have the person of Christ at centre of our ideal, and have opened our hearts to the grace of God.
  2. It is within the community of the Church that we are nurtured and empowered to live a life in grace in the rest of our lives.
  3. Each part of the human body exists to serve the whole body in some way; and each member of the laity is in the body of Christ to play their part in the overall mission of the church, not simply to find what they personally can get from it.

Some confusion can arise over the use of the word laity. It is true that we are all – whether ordained or not – the “laos,” or “people of God,” but this talk uses the term in its more conventional meaning to differentiate the ‘ordinary’ church members from the clergy (and others in religious orders.) Over several centuries of having professional clergy who were often in years gone by drawn from the ranks of the educated and privileged, the Anglican Church became typically to be represented by a village parish where the Vicar did everything in church, and the laity’s job was just to turn up and listen. This impression is deeply rooted in our national conscience, and the main thrust of this talk is to inspire the listeners to realise again that we are all not just passive but active members of the Body of Christ.