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Lay Leader's Corner Archive

Greetings from the Lay Leader’s Corner. Since the last newsletter, my service to the Big Rapids Parish has come to an end. Dedicated lay speakers in the Parish have come forward to fill the role I have been filling, and I can direct my attention to the needs of the Reed City UMC. Praise the Lord!

 

Pastor Daniel and I have agreed to meet regularly, at least once a month, to discuss the state of the church and needed ministries. At our last meeting, relationship building was the main subject of our discussion. It is through our relationships with others that our faith in Jesus Christ was first formed, strengthened, and then passed on to others.

 

As anyone knows, relationships take time, patience, understanding, and love. Jesus described the church as a body in which each part is important but that no one member can do it all. We all need each other. He prayed that we “may be one” (John 17:11). In a spiritual context, “being one” refers to our interconnectedness, not our sameness. I relate this to the experience of being in small groups, at Coffee Fellowship after Sunday service and at Bible study, in which those in the group exchange views, examples, feelings, and beliefs involved in our individual faith journeys. Through these exchanges we not only strengthen and grow our relationships with each other and Christ, but also have realized, though we have different views, examples, feelings, and beliefs, we are connected through our faith in Christ and are in the body of Christ, the church.

 

To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world we must develop relationships with those who are not yet disciples of Jesus Christ. For many of us that may seem like a daunting task, one for which we feel inadequate. It seems to me that the best place to start to develop the relationship building skills we need to make disciples of Jesus Christ is with people with whom we already have relationships. Those of us in the small groups mentioned have, for the most part, known each other for many years. Yet, after several weeks or months of discussion and sharing we came to the realization of how much deeper our relationships had grown because of our time together. We learned patience, that is, to really listen to what each person was trying to express so as to have a better understanding of where they were on their faith journey. We also found that Christian love grows more than we could have imagined within that experience.

 

As important, necessary, and vital it is to participate in Sunday worship, we need more than just that to “be one”. One example is participating in a small group, formal or informal, in which relationships can grow deeper and stronger, which is key to developing the skills we will need to make disciples of Jesus Christ. You are invited to join or start a small group for Bible study and/or discussion of your faith journey. Please contact me or Pastor Daniel as we can be of assistance to you in that endeavor.

 

Yours in Christ, peace be with you.

 

Your Lay Leader,

Timothy Locker, Sr.

 

Greetings and thanks to all who have welcomed me back from my service to the Big Rapids Parish churches. My stint there is not yet completed, but I will only be gone from RCUMC just one Sunday a month until the end of June, when those churches will have completed a transition to a new form of pastoral care. As your “Lay Leader” I return with more knowledge and insight than I could have imagined six or seven months ago. Serving the Lord tends to have that effect.

When first serving the Big Rapids Parish I asked to meet with the Lay Leader from each church. I was met with the question; “What is a ‘Lay Leader?’”. For whatever reason, the Parish churches didn’t realize they were required, by the Book of Discipline to elect a “Lay leader” at their annual charge conferences. After explaining what a Lay Leader’s responsibilities are, each church quickly determined the individual who had, for the most part, been fulfilling that role in each church. God always provides, even when we are not aware. Those churches now have “elected” Lay Leaders.

That being said, some of you may be asking the same question; “What is a “Lay Leader”?”. This article aims to help answer that. Also, this is an invitation for anyone, with questions about lay leadership not answered by this article, to engage me in conversation about your questions.

To start, the following is a paraphrase of paragraph 251 from the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (2012 edition, the latest edition I had on hand).

1. Out of the professing membership of each local church, there shall be elected by the charge conference a lay leader who shall function as the primary lay representative of the laity in that local church and shall have the following responsibilities:

a) foster awareness of the role of laity both within the congregation and through their ministries outside the confines of the congregation.

b) meeting regularly with the pastor to discuss the state of the church and needed ministries.

c) membership in the charge conference and the church council (leadership team), finance team, nominations/leadership development team, PPR/SPR team, where, along with the pastor, the lay leader shall serve as an interpreter of the actions and programs of the annual conference and the general Church.

d) continuing involvement in study and training opportunities to develop a growing understanding of the Church’s reason for existence and mission.

e) assisting in advising the church council (LT) of opportunities available and the needs expressed for a more effective ministry of the church through its laity in the community.

f) informing the laity of training opportunities provided by the annual conference. Where possible, the lay leader shall attend training opportunities and is urged to become a certified lay servant.

After reviewing the Book of Discipline, my experiences as lay leader of this congregation, and my District Superintendent Assignment working with other congregations, I am determined to improve as your lay leader through better communication and service to this congregation and the community at large. I pray that through continued correspondence such as this newsletter article, conversations with you, further study, prayer, and God’s guidance, will lead me to better service to this congregation and fulfillment of God’s plan.

Peace be with you.

Your lay leader,

Timothy Locker, Sr.

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