We are all ministers.
You have probably heard that phrase many times, but do we really know what it means? Have you ever wondered what gifts and graces you really possess in your walk with God? We are all ministers, but did we know when we stepped out in faith for the first time as Christians, where our service to others would take us?
Neither did Steve Losh, who recently completed the process of becoming one of the Wesleyan District’s first Certified Lay Speakers. When Steve and his wife, Jan, started attending Trinity United Methodist Church, outside of Clarksburg, in 1991, little did he know God’s plans for his life.
After being appointed Lay Leader of the church in 2008, he began helping the pastor during the worship services and delivering the message when the pastor was away. “I found that I enjoyed the preparation and experience,” Steve said.
When he was encouraged by the congregation to start taking classes for lay speaker certification, he decided to take that next step. After praying about it and talking it over with his wife, he enrolled in the Introduction to Lay Ministry: the BASIC course at the Fall 2012 Wesleyan District Lay Academy in Buckhannon.
After this course, Steve continued to move forward in his ministry and coursework.
“I really enjoyed the course preparation and classroom experience,” Steve remembered, “and felt it really helped me grow in my spiritual walk with God.”
Steve believes that “the Spirit led me to continue on that path, and I saw no reason to doubt those promptings.”
In March of 2020, Steve completed the final course of the six that are required by the United Methodist Book of Discipline and our WV Conference to be certified as a Lay Speaker. As per the requirements for certification, Steve submitted his application for approval, endorsed by his pastor and council chair, to the Wesleyan District Committee on Lay Ministry (DCLM). Steve was then interviewed by the DCLM in August, via Zoom, and was unanimously approved for certification. The final step in the process was an approval by the WV Conference Director of Lay Ministry.
As a Certified Lay Speaker, Steve can fill in as pulpit supply, preaching the Word, as needed by his church or around the District or Conference, but, as we all know, someone doesn’t need to preach on Sundays or serve a congregation to minister.
DISCERNING THE CALL
As director of Lay Ministry for the Wesleyan District, I know that we have many laity who are answering God’s call in their lives, in this district as well as all around our connection. Several are very close to finishing their Lay Speaker or Lay Minister certifications, and many more are fulfilling their call in countless other ways.
Many do not feel the call to pulpit ministry, and that is OK. Grounded in a person’s gifts and talents, they may feel led down a different path. Our UMC website says that “people live out their baptismal vows and answer God’s call in many ways.”
Listening to a friend who needs to talk. Giving food from your garden to an elderly neighbor who cannot get out. Packing backpacks for children. Helping an immigrant navigate the city bus system. Raising funds for a mission project. Forgiving someone. Speaking a kind word to an overworked shop clerk. Pursuing a professional vocation as a teacher, nurse or doctor, social worker, attorney and many others. Telling someone about God. These are just a few of the ways lay persons can minister to those around them.
As the Discipline affirms, “The witness of the laity, their Christ-like examples of everyday living as well as the sharing of their own faith experience of the Gospel, is the primary evangelistic ministry through which all people will come to know Christ and The United Methodist Church will fulfill its mission” (Para. 127).
That is one reason that learning about our United Methodist heritage or which spiritual gifts we possess could be important in discerning our call. Taking a class or filling out a Spiritual Gifts Survey can start the ball rolling, and a great foundation course for anyone who wants to explore and discover their unique call in serving God, neighbor and the greater church is the Introduction to Lay Ministry: the BASIC Course.
If you are interested in finding out more, contact your pastor or your District office.