Several weeks ago, I was asked for my vision of the future of small-membership churches. I didn’t have a clear-cut answer at the time. But imagine this:
Way off in the distance, a small, black speck can be seen on the horizon. As I watch, the speck becomes larger and larger as it approaches my small, rural church. Ah, now I recognize it. The elder is coming riding in on the trusty steed.
What a wonderful sight to behold. We haven’t seen the elder for many weeks. Call those together who asked to be baptized. Where is the communion steward? We need Eucharist elements to be blessed. Organize the church council as we have questions and need guidance. Pull the trustees together so we can discuss the building renovation plans. And, halleluiah, the elder will be preaching this Sunday. Is the worship team ready for the elder?
What happens with my faith community between elder visits? Thank the Lord for laity involvement and leadership. Many laity are even certified as Lay Servants and Lay Speakers. Together, we manage the day-to-day operations and mission of the church. Yes, we worship together every Sunday, maintain several small groups, provide Christian education for children and youth, reach out to the needs of our community, perform all the administrative duties required of every church and support the pastoral care needs of our members.
Gone are the days when we believed clergy had to do it all!
Mary Feit is Lay Servant Ministries director for the Great Plains Conference.