Are you Feeling Called to Lay Leadership?
By Lewis Sorrells, office assistant on the bishop's staff and member of All Souls Cathedral
I come from two generations of a family that modeled service to their church communities. My parents and grandparents were church treasurers, Sunday School teachers, vacation bible school principals, lay deacons, and committee members.
For them, their church was the social and religious center of their lives in a rural setting. While this ethos may not prevail for many of us now, being an actively involved communicant in our parish is still essential for the life of our church and for our own spiritual growth. Our clergy cannot do everything or be responsible for all the ministry that happens in a congregation.
All of us are called to baptized ministry within the Christian community, and we call this mutual ministry. Every parish needs vestry members, ushers, greeters, chalice bearers, and altar guild members. Every parish needs lay leaders in stewardship, buildings and grounds, finance, and outreach efforts.
Taking on roles or membership in any of these areas strengthens the life of the congregation through your commitment and strengthens your own sense of having a part in the mission and ministry within your parish and the community in which you live.
How can this happen?
•Look around the life of your parish. Where can you become involved that matches your interests? Talk to your vestry members, wardens, clergy, and newcomer committee. Don’t wait to be asked – be proactive! Try for a balance between activities within and ministries outside of your parish.
•Look around the life of your community and/or neighborhood. Where can you contribute? Food banks, literacy, school volunteer, and advocacy for those on the margins are some examples.
•Look around your own life. What gifts and knowledge do you have to share? Also, remember all of those biblical stories about people answering calls to ministry who had no apparent gifts or expertise that would equip them for the task. They just answered, “Here am I, send me.” And what was needed was provided. Do you see needs that are not being addressed, needs that you might raise the call to respond to in your parish? Be the one to answer that call.