What does it take to be successful in lay ministry?
Willingness to be inconvenienced – Neither training nor serving are going to conform to each person’s specific, customized needs. Travel should be anticipated. This is what it means to be itinerate. Serving takes time, so clearing your calendar to allow for ministry is essential. This is what it means to deny self.
Initiative – Having the motivation to seek training, to meet with your pastor and to answer every email, every day are all critical to ministry success. No one is going to make ministry happen for you. Pray about the next steps and push forward. This is what it means to take up the cross.
Faith in the moment – Personal faith is the foundation for public faith. There are few things that ensure a moment-by-moment relationship with God more than preaching and public ministry. This is what it means to follow Him.
Six years ago, I answered God’s call to preach from the pulpit of small United Methodist churches. In order to pursue lay ministry I first needed to resign from the staff of a large church, and then I needed to clear my calendar. Being open minded, flexible and willing to be in the moment has been humbling and a challenge. Through traveling to other towns I’ve realized that my best worship time happens in the car (who knew?), especially when I’m anxious. Opportunities have come with being quick to respond to requests to preach, answering email and phone calls promptly.
Jesus said, “Anyone who wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, take up the cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) The question is, do you want to be His disciple?
Julie Schropp is the Kansas City District director of Lay Servant Ministries.