Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church
Congratulations, and THANKS for serving as your congregation’s Lay Leader!
As a leader, you will be looked to as a resource and example for all the laity who serve in your congregation’s leadership. You are in a position to influence how well your congregation achieves its purpose to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” What an opportunity you have!
Your role as Lay Leader is defined in the Book of Discipline, specifically paragraph 251. This includes participation as a member of several important committees / teams for your congregation. Also, the Guidelines booklet from Cokesbury titled “Lay Leader / Lay Member” can be helpful to you.
The Conference Lay Ministry Team believes the following can provide practical ideas for your consideration as you work with your pastor to determine exactly how you will serve and lead in your congregation:
A. Leadership – Focus
A Vision: Spiritually engaged Laity Leaders – partnering with pastors in leading congregations to fruitfulness in our mission: making disciples of Jesus Christ!
Remember two key words: Pastor and Mission
1. Support your Pastor
a. Pray for and with your pastor regularly.
b. Meet with him / her regularly, at least monthly
c. Provide public support and private insight for your pastor
2. Keep Focusing on the Mission (purpose)
a. Mission – Work with your pastor to emphasize your congregation’s “mission” and the stated mission of the United Methodist Church to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Alignment of all your congregation’s activities with this mission is critical, helping to guide decisions on what ideas to pursue and what unfruitful ministries to stop doing.
b. Planning – To accomplish the mission, work with your pastor to assure that measurable goals / strategies are developed & reviewed monthly,
B. Spiritual Engagement - personally
First and foremost, the life of a church Lay Leader should demonstrate an intentional, discernible effort to grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ, participating regularly in Bible study, prayer, and other means of grace. Secondly, a Lay Leader should practice spiritual disciplines, including those that are part of the United Methodist Church membership requirements:
- Prayer -- pray regularly and faithfully for your church and its mission, its people, its pastors, its ministry outreach, and your part in its leadership;
- Presence -- be present for worship every Sunday when possible;
- Gifts -- give a percentage of your income, preferably at least a tithe (10%);
- Service -- serve in at least one ministry in your local church;
- Witness – share your faith in Jesus Christ, in words and actions every day.
Finally, a Lay Leader should join with the pastor in practicing the following:
Five Expectations for Leaders in United Methodist Congregations
Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations
- Radical Hospitality
- Passionate Worship
- Intentional Faith Development
- Risk-Taking Mission & Service
- Extravagant Generosity
C. Leadership – Activities
While your actual work as Lay Leader will develop out of your individual gifts, calling, and passion, in collaboration with your pastor, here are some specific ideas to enhance your effectiveness:
- Model a partnership with the Pastor, meeting regularly with him or her.
- Be positive and focused on the main thing (“the mission”): making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
- Relate effectively to the congregation and other local leaders.
- Attend Training for Lay Leadership Development and Lay Servant Ministries.
- Encourage teamwork between the pastor and lay leadership.
- Work to strengthen the relationship between the Pastor and the congregation.
- Communicate with the District Lay Leader periodically.
- Meet with Lay Leaders from other congregations and promote the sharing of good ideas.
- Attend at least 2 learning events in the district or conference per year.
- Read Parts II and III of the Discipline (pp. 41-95 in 2008 version) to become familiar with our Doctrine, Theology, and the Mission & Ministry of the Church.
- Inspire and motivate the congregation to move in an outward, evangelical focus. Set an example by being involved in the community yourself.
- Promote good ideas with leaders of committees and teams.
- Organize learning/spiritual events for laity, or see that they are organized.
- Communicate the joy and synergism of serving Christ together.
- Focus longer-term to see the bigger picture.
- Practice excellent communication skills – both spoken and written.
- Work with the pastor to identify committed lay persons who may be called to leadership in the congregation’s ministry and help develop them as leaders.