By Pat Marsh
In his 6th annual Laity Address, Conference Lay Leader Brian Hammons not only reported on the goals of the laity team and development of a simpler training program, he also offered challenges and encouragement to laity and pastors.
Hammons noted the laity leadership vision is clarified as “Spiritually engaged laity leaders partnering with pastors to lead congregations to fruitfulness in our mission: making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” To accomplish this vision, goals have been set in two areas - Connecting and Learning.
Connecting: The emphasis is to help connect laity leaders with resources and with other laity leaders in the Conference. He encouraged those present to write down one way to personally connect with a resource or folks beyond their own congregations.
Learning: “I’m happy to report that under the leadership of Ken Willard and Jeff Fothergill, your Lay Ministry Team and District Directors of Lay Servant Ministries are developing a simpler program incorporating the best of our training courses,” he said. Still under development, the program will better coordinate Lay Servant Ministries and Lay Leadership Development to provide high-level learning opportunities.
The basic Lay Servant Ministries course is encouraged for every laity leader. After that, two learning tracks are planned: Lay Speaking and Congregational Leadership. The focus is preparation for leadership and effectiveness – not upon certification or status. “It’s about strengthening skills to be effective,” he said.
Hammons also shared observations of effective leaders in growing congregations. In addition to the Five Practices, these leaders focus on three areas, he noted.
Clarity of an intentional process for making disciples of Jesus. He encouraged laity to talk with their pastors about how to better define the discipleship process.
Leadership Development. Pastors of growing congregations focus on developing leaders in several ways - discovery and use of ministry gifts, retreats on leadership ideas, praying and planning together, attending workshops, etc.
Preach and teach both grace and truth. “Our culture cries out today for truth – scriptural truth that’s conveyed through Jesus’ life and teaching,” Hammons said.
Hammons closed with a call to persevere. “Let’s keep going, keep the focus and be part of a ‘new thing’ that God continues to do through the United Methodist people in Missouri,” he said. He also thanked all who give of their time, energy and resources for the mission God has for us.