AMICABLE COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THE LAITY AND THE CLERGY: AN IMPERATIVE FOR A HEALTHY CHURCH GROWTH (A CASE STUDY OF PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES IN BENUE STATE)

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

One of the worst afflictions of the contemporary church is the separation between the clergy and laity which results from a failure of communication between them. The sense of Separation, however, seems to be greater among the clergy than the laity. What is this sense of separation, and what are its signs? The loneliness of the clergy in their churches and communities is one of the most poignant signs. They have little companionship or relationship with the laity except for that which is related to their functions as ministers. And much of this professional relationship is strained and stilted. Perceptive laymen are aware of the condition. One, for example, expressed the opinion that “clergy are the great un-churched. They preside over the churches and minister to the laymen but they are not free to be members of .the church and, therefore, beneficiaries of its ministry.” Discussion with clergy reveals that the observation of the laymen is correct. It is inconceivable to the clergy that the congregation or individual church members should know, accept, and care for them as persons. On the contrary, most ministers’ training for their work seems to indoctrinate them with the understanding that it would be unprofessional/or them to expect, much less receive, care from the people in their congregations. If they do not receive it from their congregations, they probably will not receive it at all because the experience of many ministers clearly reveals that pastoral care is not available from bishops, denominational leaders, and other ecclesiastical authorities. Institutional concerns tend to make administrators rather than pastors out of church leaders. Laity, likewise, has a low expectation of being the church to their pastors. They regard a minister as the head of the church, the director of its enter prises, the doer of the ministry. They invest him with imagined powers which hide from them the fact that he is a human being and therefore in need of companionship and care. Furthermore, laity has many preoccupations away from the church that keep them from becoming aware that the minister and his family are lonely in the midst of what is supposed to be a Christian community. The loneliness of the clergy is not only personal and social but conceptual and theological as well.