Lay Leader's Blog

Rural Ministry: Matching Assets to Opportunities


By Lori Kiehl As the Mark Twain District Lay Leader, I want to invite you to North Missouri to engage with problem solvers of small rural churches. The Mark Twain District’s Rural Ministry Now conference is meeting the challenge of helping rural churches thrive by providing training to church leaders on Saturday, February 17 at the Northeast Missouri Fairgrounds in Kirksville from 8:30 am to 4 pm. The focus will be “Missional Engagement: Matching Assets to Opportunities.” We will discuss ways ...

The Lay Leader


By Mitch Ross What does a Lay Leader really do? The United Methodist Church Book of Discipline outlines responsibilities for lay leaders, but that is the easy answer.       To answer candidly, we need to recognize the role of laity in the church. “The witness of the laity, their Christ-like examples of everyday living as well as sharing their own faith experiences of the gospel, is the primary evangelistic ministry through which all people will come to know Christ and The United Methodist ...

The Four Weeks of Advent


By Amy Thompson Advent is the season of the church in which we prepare our lives for the coming of Christ. Growing up, my favorite part of Advent was placing our advent wreath with its three purple candles and one pink candle next to our nativity scene. In the four weeks leading up to Christmas, we would read stories and scripture related to the themes of hope, peace, joy and love.   As a child, my interest was in the stories, but now as I think of these themes, I wonder do we really ...

Leading an Active Prayer Life

Amy Thompson


By Amy Thompson As leaders, it is important to be intentional in your own personal spiritual development. Your personal commitment to growing in your faith could begin with many things. I would like to suggest prayer. An active prayer life can be a major piece to your spiritual development as you explore your relationship with God through quiet time, listening, requesting and conversation. My own prayer life dramatically changed a few years ago when a pastor recommended Mark Batterson’s book, ...

The Gift of Presence and Music in Mozambique


By Amy Thompson Here are the words from an email that I received in May prior to traveling to Mozambique in June: “We are preparing to receive you and the team. Let me share with you what preparing to receive means. The sound of voices floating through the air as you turn the corner to leave the terminal of the airport. The chanting and clapping of men, women and children as you arrive at a church or orphanage. As it is heard in Psalm, I will praise the Lord all of my life; I will sing praise ...

Preparation for Pastoral Transition


By Amy Thompson The month of June is known as Annual Conference time. Last month I asked you to keep the individuals attending and the work of conference in your prayers. This is your reminder…pray for us June 9-12!      June is also known as moving month for pastors. Some of our local churches are preparing to say goodbye to their pastor and to welcome their next pastor. This transition time creates a mix of feelings for both laity and clergy.       The Cabinet has shared resources with local ...

Connecting Through Conference


By Amy Thompson One of the things that I love about United Methodism is the connectional system. The connectional system reminds me how we are all connected in working for the Kingdom of God. We are not in the Kingdom– building work on our own. We can work together and learn from one another. I am reminded of how big our local connectional system is when I attend Annual Conference each year. If you stand in the vendor area located upstairs in the Expo Center, you can look out the windows and ...

Show No Mercy in Doing Justice


By John Miller When Methodists met, and John Wesley was in their midst, he often took special offerings for the poor, including five in one day from what his brother Charles called the “same poor exhausted people!” Charles said of John and his captive congregation. “He has no mercy on them.”      John Wesley showed no mercy in his collection efforts, or in his advocacy on social justice issues like slavery, because he faithfully lived the words of the prophet Micah: he did justice, and he truly...

Getting Closer to God During Lent


By Amy Thompson Well, Missouri Methodists, we are entering the season of Lent. Lent is the 40 days prior to Easter, excluding Sundays. It begins with Ash Wednesday. If you have attended an Ash Wednesday service then you know that the minister will mark the sign of a cross using ashes on your forehead. Part of Ash Wednesday is remembering that our lives are a gift from God which the ashes remind us of. Lent is a time to repent. We turn our lives toward Christ in a more focused intentional way ...

Rural Ministry in Missouri


By Karen Shearer, Mark Twain District Lay Leader A pastor friend of mine recently sent me some statistics that may be surprising: 77 percent of our United Methodist churches here in Missouri have weekly attendance of fewer than 100 people.* Furthermore, almost 60 percent of our churches have attendance of fewer than 50 people each week. Those churches with 50 or less, however, account for just 15 percent of our statewide weekly attendance.      Some may say, “So aren’t you stating the obvious? ...

The Gift of an Experience


By Amy Thompson I recently found myself involved in a conversation about gift giving. This individual was sharing the pressure she feels in selecting a gift for her children or family member. The conversation centered around seeking the perfect gifts to give and then a year later noticing that you are placing those same gifts in the donation pile. She even noted the disappointment felt when finding the gift hadn’t even been used.      She went on to share that she had heard a segment on the ...

An Attitude of Gratitude


As we enter the month of November, many of us take some time to pause and give thanks for the gifts in our life. Gifts like friendship, family, health. This year I am giving pause asking myself how do I show my thankfulness and gratitude throughout the year and not give special attention just around the Thanksgiving holiday? We can all create an attitude of gratitude that extends beyond the month of November. If we would pause daily or weekly we can identify persons, places and things to which ...

The Witness of the Laity


By Amy Thompson As our former conference lay leader, Brian Hammons, mentioned at Annual Conference in the laity address, the UM Book of Discipline Paragraph 127 reveals the key to the renewal of the Methodist movement is the witness of the laity. What does that mean? It means a challenge lays before the laity of the church to reach out into this world to help others know God. Many of us have various images in our minds when we hear the word witness. I offer this image. A Christ follower seeing ...

New Beginnings


A buzz is around the Missouri Conference. You may hear talk of transitions, new teams for the next quadrennium, a new conference lay leader, a new Bishop. What does all this mean for the laity and local church?

Faith Walk


By Amy Thompson Amid the endless topics available for my first article as Conference Lay Leader, I would like say thanks to all of those who have touched my life and been a part of my faith walk. While there are too many to name, I want to acknowledge a few as they were present at Annual Conference, making this transition more special to me.    My earliest memories of Sunday School contain Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. While shaping my early learnings of Jesus Christ, they continued to influence my life...

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