FROM MY SAMPLE SOCIAL ACTION TARGET MAP
- Social Action Target: Spirit
- Connection: Spiritual Gifts on Demand
- Action: Certified Lay Servant – Lay Worship Leader
- Organization: Bethesda United Methodist Church at Haw Creek Commons
The United Methodist Church has a specific training series for lay members who are moving into various leadership and teaching roles. Other churches do the same. And I had begun these classes in my previous church where I also worked as the church administrator. So it was natural to take on these classes when I returned to the United Methodist Church. There are various directions members can go as Spirit and gifts lead. For lay members, they begin with Lay Servant Basics class. This is a good solid introduction course and good for anyone taking a leadership role in the church. After the Basics class, there are a number of Advanced Lay classes available. Once a lay member takes the basics class and an Advanced class they can be certified by their congregation as a Certified Lay Servant. There is an annual report of education received and lay servant activities to maintain certification and at least one advanced course every three years.
Ok. I am an overachiever. There is a series of core classes: Public Prayer, Spiritual Gifts, Leading Worship, Beliefs and History, and Polity – in the order I took them over a year through a combination of online classes and face to face classes. With these completed, I can take Go Preach to become a Certified Lay Speaker, able to deliver the message at any United Methodist Church. For now, I chose the Leading Public Prayer class first because that is what I was least comfortable with. Actually, I was not comfortable with it at all.
About the time I took the class our music director took a position with another church. This created a very vacant vacancy at the piano of an already small music team. We are not even attempting a choir. One person had the skills to fill that vacancy – but she was the Certified Lay Speaker leading the worship service.
The piano needed her more.
This left the minister managing the entire service. There are a couple of reasons why this isn’t ideal. One, having lots of people involved in the service gives it more of a community feel. The second is just logistics. There is a lot that goes on in the liturgy between the prelude – from that piano – to the message – to the benediction. A lot for one person to handle on top of keeping the prayerful headspace for congregation needs and the message.
And then I had an online instructor give the assignment – I had to lead one prayer in one service. Just one. This already filled me with dread – remember I was taking the class because I didn’t feel at all comfortable with this. Our liturgy has several opportunities for prayer. My minister allowed me to lead one…and that one…and I could do this one, too.
And all it went well. Actually, it went beyond well. And I suddenly had the opportunity to do it again. And I could share some of the prayers I was writing in class. And after two or three more Sundays my leading prayers was just standard and finally, the bulletin was switched to list me for leading these prayers including a custom invocation which I usually write myself with a lot of prayer and Bible study.
I LOVE IT!
In our Spiritual Gifts class, we completed an inventory of current gifts and skills. But this is not what happened with my leading the opening prayers and praise of our worship service. Such an inventory never would have suggested such a role for me. I never would have suggested such a role for me.
One of my favorite shows is Touched by an Angel. The lead character, an angel, finds herself in all kinds of situations where she has the chance to remind people of God’s love. In one episode she suddenly finds herself in a very technical medical situation. She remarks, to remind herself, “I know what I need to know when I need to know it.”
So yes, there are the various Spiritual Gifts inventories of what you are already doing. Sometimes there is a burning bush and a staff. And sometimes there is the Spiritual Gifts on Demand program as I call it. No credit card required, not even pixie dust – just a little faith.