Lay clergy

(also see “Community” and “Service”)

 

Pros of Mormonism from the perspective of the
Believer
Nonbeliever
Many believers feel that one of the great inspirations behind the modern church is the idea of a “lay clergy”, or that church leadership on local levels is made up entirely of volunteers from the congregation. Since most active members have a calling and are thus part of the lay clergy, most members become very invested in the community. This can create an atmosphere where people are involved and motivated to improve everyone’s lives. This fosters a tight community that is difficult to find in other places outside of the church. In addition, callings and the lay clergy provide service and leadership opportunities that many members would otherwise be unlikely to experience, providing unique opportunities for personal growth. Having a lay clergy also saves the church money and allows for more resources to be available for other worthy endeavors.
Many nonbelievers would entirely agree with all of the pros that the believer sees:  Since most active members have a calling and are thus part of the lay clergy, most members become very invested in the community. This can create an atmosphere where people are involved and motivated to improve everyone’s lives. This fosters a tight community that is difficult to find in other places outside of the church. In addition, callings and the lay clergy provide service and leadership opportunities that many members would otherwise be unlikely to experience, providing unique opportunities for personal growth. Having a lay clergy also saves the church money and allows for more resources to be available for other worthy endeavors.
 
Cons of Mormonism from the perspective of the
Believer
Nonbeliever
Having a lay clergy frequently means that people are sometimes given responsibilities that they are not qualified for or are frankly bad at. On a practical level, it means that many sermons and lessons are sometimes less inspiring or less entertaining than if they were given by a professional. However, these warts are part of the charm of the community within Mormonism: every Sunday you will find a congregation of good people struggling (sometimes pitifully) to help each other become better Saints. To many, this is thus not a con at all.
Having a lay clergy frequently means that people are sometimes given responsibilities that they are not qualified for or are frankly bad at. On a practical level, it means that many sermons and lessons are sometimes less inspiring or less entertaining than if they were given by a professional.
 
Many nonbelievers might see harm in having a lay clergy. In Mormonism, a lay clergy is made up of people who are asked to do something. This means that many people have responsibilities that they literally do not want to have. It probably increases the turnover of people in leadership positions and decreases the chances that experienced people will be serving in leadership roles. There are often little to no qualifications required for callings in Mormonism, and little to no training given when callings are extended. Thus, the lay clergy can increase the chances that a congregation is subject to leaders who are unqualified, not trained or poorly trained, and/or not passionate about their position. This can have real negative effects when people like this are working with youth, children, or in positions to counsel individuals or families in difficult situations. A paid clergy might increase the chances that trained, qualified, and motivated individuals provide service to the community.

 

Comments relating to your lived experience with Mormonism are welcome. Although it can be difficult to distinguish at times, please focus on how the church helps and harms rather than it being true vs untrue.

Top