Jesus: First "Word" for a Fruitful Lay Ministry

Have you ever noticed the tendency for leaders to simplify things in communicating? Complex, multidimensional ideas are simplified into a few key words. This helps in memory retention, and also helps focus upon the essential idea undergirding the message. You know what I mean – 3 Simple Rules, 5 Practices, 7 Habits or Levers, Top 10 Lists, etc. You also see pastors presenting many a sermon series with 3-7 messages around a single common theme.

OK, I’m about to join the trend – again – to simplify ideas for what a lay leader in a congregation can do to be effective in their role, working with their pastor. So here are 10 WORDS TO REMEMBER for a FRUITFUL LAY MINISTRY: Jesus, Mission, Pastor, Field, Connect, Read, Simple, Discipline, Fruit, and Spirit.

As we approach the holidays and anticipate a new year with leadership changes, it’s important to remember the basics of our faith and the basics of leadership. These 10 Words are offered to help remember and develop even greater fruitfulness in your lay ministry. To work effectively with your pastor to lead in your congregation’s outreaching mission – to make disciples of Jesus Christ, thereby transforming people and ultimately the world.

Over the next few months in this column we’ll discuss each of these and why they are important to your lay ministry. There isn’t a particular order, except that Jesus always comes first. Of course, wrapped around everything is PRAYER, seeking God’s wisdom and discernment, that our efforts will be in accordance with His plan and purpose.

Jesus is first. God with us, the Word made flesh. He is “the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [him]” (John 14:6). For “he is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;... he is the head of the body, the church; ...for in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell...” (Colossians 1:15, 18, 19).

And we could cite many, many more passages of scripture, including John 3:16, that tell how Jesus Christ is at the center of our faith in God.

So “Jesus” is the first, and most important, word to remember as we do anything in the church – including growing a fruitful lay ministry.

All 10 words in the list will stimulate a focus and certain practices that have proven helpful for successful Christian leaders, both lay and clergy, in all sizes of congregations.

The foundation of all is Jesus Christ. That should be obvious – but too often we forget. We get busy doing and organizing, leading and putting out fires. When we remember that it’s not about us and we re-focus upon Jesus, there’s a certain peace, energy, even power, that drives us. We are called to be, then to make, disciples of Jesus Christ – the main thing. Focused upon him. Learning about him. Walking with him. Knowing him. As Paul said, everything else is loss compared with knowing Christ (see Phil. 3:7-11). That’s why the first expectation of a leader is to be Christ-centered, focused upon Jesus.

So a growing personal faith, commitment, and witness for Jesus Christ is the first thing necessary for a fruitful lay ministry. Jesus – name above all names, Word above all words, the way, the truth, and the life, who makes all things new. The Good News that we just have to share. Let’s remember that – first, and always. Thanks for your Jesus-centered leadership!