June 30, 2014

By Fred Koenig

Missouri Conference Lay Leader Brian Hammons opened the laity session on Friday afternoon by offering appreciation and encouragement. “You are key people in God’s plan in your communities. 
    
We’re really glad you’re here, because you are investing time to make a bigger difference in your community. We pray that you will be getting spiritually filled here, and going out in a more sent way. We’re here to connect with each other, and to learn.” 
    
He introduced Jeff Fothergill, the Missouri Conference director of Lay Speaking Ministries. Fothergill encouraged people to be excited, and to do something with their excitement. He invited the laity to the School of Lay Ministry August 1 – 3 at Wood’s Chapel in Lee’s Summit. 
    
“The school will be focused on Passionate Worship – if we’re going to get good at this, we can’t contain it to three days in Springfield,” Fothergill said. “We’re going to talk about big churches and small churches. Even if you’re at a small church, you’ll feel at home here. We want to leave you with specific, solid things that you can go back to your churches with immediately, things you can apply today.” 
    
Ken Willard, associate lay leader, said five years ago, he had the belief that mission and vision was the biggest issue in our churches, but three years ago he came to realize that the biggest issue is discipleship. 
    
Willard quoted Barna in defining discipleship as an intentional process that provides next steps in spiritual journey – moving from unbelief to belief in every aspect 
of life. 
    
“If you make disciples, you always get the church, but if you make a church you rarely get disciples,” Willard. “The mission I really care about is the one that Christ gave us, Matthew 28.”
    
Churches should consider the question: What does a disciple look like? Willard said that for too long churches were too concerned about increasing members rather than making disciples. 
    
“Mature disciples are worshipping God, and want to be around others who are worshipping God. They are coming to church,” Willard said. “The number one thing causes you to move from where you are today and growing as a disciple is reading and reflecting on God’s word.” 
    
Rev. Kim Jenne shared that the Missouri Conference Core Practices Team has been focusing on International Faith Development, and has compiled resources on Missouri Conference website at www.moumethodist.org/growingdeeper.