Very interesting blog post from Frank Viola the writer of Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity exploring leadership, in particular the modern understanding of Clergy and Laity and the leadership of all.
The word “laity” is derived from the Greek word laos. It simply means “the people.” Laosincludes all Christians—including elders.
The word appears three times in 1 Peter 2:9–10, where Peter refers to “the people [laos] of God.” Never in the New Testament does it refer to only a portion of the assembly. It didn’t take on this meaning until the third century.
The term “clergy” finds its roots in the Greek word kleros. It means “a lot or an inheritance.” The word is used in 1 Peter 5:3, where Peter instructs the elders against being “lords over God’s heritage [kleros]” (kjv).
Significantly, kleros is never used to refer to church “leaders.” Like laos, it refers to God’s people—for they are His heritage. According to the New Testament, then, all Christians are “clergy” (kleros) and all are “laity” (laos). We are the Lord’s heritage and the Lord’s people.
To frame it differently, the New Testament doesn’t dispose of clergy. It makes all believers clergy.
Therefore, the clergy/laity dichotomy is a postbiblical concept that’s devoid of any scriptural warrant. It’s also a bothersome menace to what God has called the church to be—a functioning body…
… you don’t have to be an author, a pastor, or an elder of a local church to be a leader. In fact, some of the greatest Christian leaders I’ve known where neither.
[update] Ed Stetzer is blogging on the same theme - Laypeople and the Mission of God, part 1 — Killing the Clergy-Laity Caste System
…we must begin by declaring the two class system of ministry dead– we may even have to kill it. A new level of ownership must be given to the people of God, and the people of God must embrace what they are given. God’s desire is to have a church made up of every day Christians living like missionaries. The clergy-laity caste system is killing churches and hindering the mission of God. Let’s kill it.