A CALL TO ACTION TO LAITY OF THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
The United Methodist Church continues to be a spiritual influence in the world for the Gospel. Essential to its ministry are healthy, vital congregations. But what makes a congregation vital and what do vital congregations do?
A study was made on 33,000 churches and found that nearly 5,000 over five year period were growing and engaging a greater percentage of their membership in worship and ministry. The study further examined these churches and found they shared at least 16 ministries/ strategies in common. The study called them “drivers of vitality,” and indicated that if churches worked on all 16, they would move toward vitality or become more vital. Of the 16 ministries/ strategies four deals on the role of the laity, such as:
1. Vital churches focus on increasing the effectiveness of lay leaders (understand their role and carrying these roles out effectively).
2. Vital churches have lay leaders who demonstrate a vital personal faith (regular worship, intentional spiritual growth, personal devotional life, and giving of financial resources).
3. Vital churches place an emphasis on rotating lay leadership in order to involve more people over time.
4. Vital churches call, equip, use and support more lay leaders than non-vital churches. (Twenty percent or more of their worship attendees describe themselves as current or past leaders in their church).
A Call to Action has already started to be employed in many congregations and conferences of The United Methodist Church. A Call to Action to Laity includes the following:
a. Regularly practice and lead others to practice the means of grace. As we look at the means of grace today, they can be divided into works of piety and the works of mercy.
Works of Piety
Individual Practices – reading, meditating and studying the scriptures, prayer, fasting, regularly attending worship, healthy living, and sharing our faith with others
Communal Practices – regularly share in the sacraments, Christian conferencing (accountability to one another), and Bible study
Works of Mercy
Individual Practices – doing good works, visiting the sick, visiting those in prison, feeding the hungry, and giving generously to the needs of others
Communal Practices – seeking justice, ending oppression and discrimination (for instance Wesley challenged Methodists to end slavery), and addressing the needs of the poor.
b. Serve within your congregation so that it becomes more cital, particularly leading, serving within your congregation to implement the 16 drivers of vitality and carry out the four areas of focus- end deaths by malaria, eliminate poverty, start new faith communities, and recruit younger clergy.
c. Grow leadership and or servant skills to serve with increasing effectiveness so that the congregation implement the 16driver of vitality and becomes more vital.
d. Embrace and develop metrics and goals that measure your congregation’s effectiveness for growing vital congregations and results in the four areas of focus. Thus includes but is not limited to the five denominational discipleship goals:
1. Disciples makes new disciples- profession of faith;
2. Disciples worship- worship attendance;
3. Disciples grow and mature in their faith- number of small faith-development groups;
4. Disciples engage in mission- number of members engaged in community and worldwide mission;
5. Disciples give generously to mission- the amount of money given to mission.
e. Pray for and work with your pastor (s), superintendent, and bishop to grow the unity within the congregation, conference, and denomination; grow trust within the congregation and denomination; and engage in listening and conversation with non-religious and nominally religious people in the community.