Why Doesn’t the Mormon Church have Ministers?
If you are here just to have the question answered, the answer is we do and we don’t. If that satisfied your curiosity then great; if want to know more, then read on.
If you Google the word minister there are two main definitions, a noun and a verb. The noun is used to describe a member of the clergy, especially in Protestant churches and as a head of a government department such as Britain’s defense minister. The verb describes a person that tends to, care for, take care of, look after, administer to, help, or assist someone. (Google definition of minister) An example of this type of a minister is the Good Samaritan from New Testament teachings of Jesus Christ.
|British Minister of Defense|
As a teenager my family attended the Methodist Church in a small Indiana town and there was a minister for our local congregation. The Minister was the person that was hired by the local church to take care of the spiritual needs of the members. He was responsible for all the finances, all the various youth and adult programs, he was the person that gave the sermon during the Sunday services and he was paid a salary to provide for his needs and his families. There were also volunteers who helped teach Sunday School, work with the Youth Programs, helped with the nursery, and many other programs; but the Minister was the one person that was responsible for everything.
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we don’t have a paid minister, we have a lay clergy. The Bishop is the closest thing we have to a Protestant Minister. The bishop, along with his counselors, is responsible for a ward or local congregation. Bishops are not paid for their work in the church. They continue to work in whatever profession they have in addition to serving as Bishop.
During this past April Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson had this to say:
“Dear brothers and sisters, we constantly seek direction from the Lord on how we can help our members keep the commandments of God, especially those two great commandments to love God and our neighbors.“For months we have been seeking a better way to minister to the spiritual and temporal needs of our people in the Savior’s way. “We have made the decision to retire home teaching and visiting teaching as we have known them. Instead, we will implement a newer, holier approach to caring for and ministering to others. We will refer to these efforts simply as ministering.” (“Ministering”)
In the same conference session Elder Jeffery R. Holland added this plea:
“Brothers and sisters, we have a heaven-sent opportunity as an entire Church to demonstrate “pure religion … undefiled before God” “to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light” and to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort,” to minister to the widows and the fatherless, the married and the single, the strong and the distraught, the downtrodden and the robust, the happy and the sad—in short, all of us, every one of us, because we all need to feel the warm hand of friendship and hear the firm declaration of faith.” (Be With and Strengthen Them)As members of the Lord’s Church we are all ministers in the verb definition of the word. We are to be modern day “Good Samaritans” and look for opportunities to tend to, care for, take care of, look after, administer to, help, or assist our neighbors, co-workers, family, and yes even the stranger that has been left on the side of the road. In other words we are to be as the Savior was to those he ministered to. We should pray each day for the Lord to guide us to someone that we can minister to in some way and then as we go about our normal daily labors we should watch for and listen to the promptings that will come. As we do this we will be surprised at how many opportunities we will have to provide Christ like service to those who we meet. Watch this short video from the ministering.lds.org web site that provides a vision of what ministering is:
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