We pray it in church every week, the Rev. Rebekah Simon-Peter says.
“Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven … .”
“That’s Jesus’ big dream for the world,” the acclaimed author and consultant said. “We pray his vision every single Sunday. And we’re the people who are stewards of that vision.”
Simon-Peter will appear at this year’s Laity Summit, March 18, in an online keynote address based on her book, “Dream Like Jesus: Deepen Your Faith and Bring the Impossible to Life.”
In the book, she discusses the acronym DARE: Dream, Align, Realize and Expand.
“(Jesus) aligned people to his dream, got their buy-in,” she said from her Casper, Wyoming, office, in a joint Zoom interview for this article and communications director Todd Seifert’s “In Layman’s Terms” podcast. “Those apostles spread out over the whole known world, and the church multiplied exponentially. The church is still spreading the Good News of Jesus.”
Simon-Peter said her philosophy for laity is five A’s — anointed, appointed, authorized and accountable as an ambassador of Christ.
“What I want laity to hear is that you are apostles,” she said. “There’s nothing distinctive that can only be done by clergy (aside from communion). It’s the laity that carry out the vision.”
Laity, she said, need to realize their importance to the church.
“It’s so important for us to connect and empower the laity and listen to the laity and collaborate with laity. Because laity really are the church minister,” Simon-Peter said.
“We’re at the front of the room, but we’re not the church,” she said, referring to clergy appointed to congregations.
Simon-Peter said laity also have the right to challenge the system in their individual churches.
“Some people specialize in being challengers. That’s their gift to the world,” she said. “They can see some gaps that need to be addressed and the faulty reasoning.”
Dedicated laity, she said, need to have a heart for the church.
“In the midst of disaffiliations and discouragements and disappointments, let’s have that strong (sense of) knowing this thing is gonna work, because we’re carrying out Jesus’ big dream,” she said.
Rev. Jeff Clinger, director of congregational excellence, said Simon-Peter has worked with the Great Plains Conference’s planter-incubator process for several years, and members of his staff, especially Rev. Hollie Tapley, disaster response coordinator, are impressed with her work and her message.
“This is a voice that has a lot to say to our annual conference right now,” Clinger quoted Tapley as saying.
Clinger said that conference lay leader Lisa Maupin and newly named lay leadership coordinator Jeanie Leeper already had planned on dreaming as the theme for the Laity Summit, and securing the author of “Dream Like Jesus” was a logical choice.
“It felt like a really good fit for Laity Summit, inviting people to dream dreams about what their church is going to look like going into the future and how they as lay people can lead their congregations into the future,” Clinger said. “We’re hopeful she’ll bring her energy and her experience, teaching the laity in the session. It’s less about practical tools and more about an inspiration about how they can have a ministry in their context.”
Simon-Peter will be in person in the Great Plains Conference from April 29 to May 4, discussing her newest book, “Forging a New Path: Moving the Church Forward in a Post-Pandemic World.” Her workshop will focus on “Lessons From Pandemics Past.” Register here for tour stops in North Platte and Columbus, Nebraska; Ottawa, McPherson and Hays, Kansas.
Contact David Burke, content specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.