Begin With Knowledge


By Jeff Fothergill

At our Church Council meeting a couple of months ago, we spent time discussing what it means to be a “sent” church. I’m not sure if we touched all the bases, but it was clear that we couldn’t get there without laity involvement and support.       

Of course, that’s easy to say but more complicated to do. Whether you’re looking to inspire involvement in your church or get more involved yourself, every journey needs a starting point. Here’s a model to consider; begin with knowledge and motivation and follow with action.

Knowledge comes first — it’s the foundation. Seems basic, but it’s not always. For example, I’m the guy who starts work on the home improvement project without reading the instructions, only to go back and read them after my initial try doesn’t work. But start we must, and equipping ourselves to expand the Kingdom should always start with time in the Word. Individual study, along with participation in an active small group is a great place to begin. 
Sometimes, more specialized training is needed. Through our district committees on Lay Servant Ministries, the Missouri Conference offers over 40 in-person and online courses, in topics both broad (evangelism) and focused (multimedia in worship). Your district lay servant director can walk you through what courses are available, and a full schedule of all courses currently scheduled in the conference is available on the events calendar at

Knowledge is a powerful thing, but only effective when it’s used—but where and how? Our courses are designed, and our leaders are selected to be both motivational and directional. They work together to provide not only the underlying information but also tactics, action steps and tips on how to use what you’ve learned to build the Kingdom and make a difference in your church.

After learning the “what” and discovering the “why,” the next step is to “do,” and, if you’re like me, that can be the hardest part. Many times, I’ve thought about doing something, only to realize later that I’d forgotten all about it. That’s easy to do, and it happens to the best of us. So it is with action — sometimes I need a push. It may be an internal push, or a nudge from other members of the fellowship. But all the knowledge and all the classes won’t make disciples unless we go out and use it. So ultimately, that’s the key word: Go.

Here’s the action step: You’re already equipped to lead radical change — where’s your passion? I encourage you to talk with your pastor, and then pray over an area where you feel called. Learn more about that area and take a class if needed. But here’s the important part: Don’t stop with the course ... go! Go make a difference, go change someone’s life, go invite a neighbor to church this week, go make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. When you do, you’ll probably find that your life is the one that’s changed.

Jeff Fothergill is Associate Conference Lay Leader and Director of Lay Servant Ministries. Jeff and his family live in Wildwood, MO, where they attend Bethel UMC.