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Throughout history the church has been composed of two types of people: those who 'do' ministry and those to whom it is 'done'. Those jobs that have an obvious direct impact on the kingdom of God are traditionally seen as superior, with so called 'secular' jobs being graded according to their Christian value. Exploring the theological, structural and cultural reasons for treating lay people as objects of ministry, Paul Stevens argues that the idea of a select few who minister to others has no foundation in scripture. We must get behind the clergy-laity debate and find out what God originally intended for his people. All Christians are called to belong to God; to be his people in faith, hope, love and holiness; and to do his work in the church and world. We live in a post vocational world where 'vocation' or 'calling' is generally equated with 'occupation' or 'career' and seems to have a particular significance for those in full time Christian work. Stevens shows from scripture that calling is first and foremost to someone before it is to do something. It is a call to salvation, a call to holiness and a call to service, issued to God's people as a hole and to each member of the community. For too long peoples' everyday lives have been separated from the communal life of the church. Churches should rather, recognise, support and equip people for mission in the workplaces, neighbourhoods and other spheres of influence so that they can proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ in a complex world of principalities and powers that resist God. R. Paul Stevens is professor of applied theology, Regent college, Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
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