Sunday, January 21, 2007

Lifting Up Lay Speakers

I fill a role as custer coordinator for our lay speaking ministries in our district. In the past few weeks I've had the priviledge of conducting the requisite annual interviews with the lay speakers for whom I'm responsible. I come away from this task with a sense of awe.

These wonderful people are the ones who are the unsung heroes, doing visitation to nursing homes, prisons, assisted living centers, working as chaplains for hospice and more. Many hold down full time jobs but still find the time to be every bit as much a minister as our salaried pastors. God bless these wonderful members of The Body.

In the past few months I've recieved phone calls as late as 7:30 in the morning on a Sunday asking for a speaker to come to a church where their pastor was sick. Someone always answers the call. Plus, a number of the lay speakers volunteer to give messages at some of the multi-point charges where the pastor can only preach every other week. It keeps them feeling like they're still "going to church" by virtue of a speaker coming and preaching the word to them.

I'm so uplifted by these selfless people in their walk. Of 25 interviewed this past week, 4 said they would be willing to pastor a church if called upon to do so. Of course, one must realize, there is no paycheck given, no benefits, no parsonage...just filling the role of a pastor when and where the need presents itself.

I'm humbled to be associated with such fine servants.


TN Rambler said...

Brother Marty,
Lay Speaking is the "secret weapon" of the UMC. Our Lay Speakers are doing more than speaking...and you do a wonderful job of pointing that out. As a former certified Lay Speaker and a current Licensed Local Pastor, I credit my lay speaking experiences with helping me clarify my calling to pastoral ministry.

Brother Marty said...

tn Rambler,

Thank you so very much for your acknowledgement. I just came home from a meeting of lay speaking coordinators for over 100 churches. In our very rural neck of the woods, there are only 14 elders, and the rest of the churches are...we...crunch the numbers.

Needless to say, I have an axe to grind with those who fail to recognize the contribution of the laity. We step in where the denomination falls short. Period.

No elders, no students, we pick up the slack and continue to bring worship to communities in need of a church to go to, and a pastor to deliver a sermon. Admittedly, some are less qualified than others, but the work of the Holy Spirit compensates where the person falls short.

Bless you in your personal revelations, and may God richly bless you as you persue being a more influential disciple. And more importantly, thank you for sharing in honoring the unsung heroes of our mere lay speakers.

Matt said...

A powerful witness to those of us who are elders...

Brother Marty said...

Thanks for your input, and kind words. I visited your blog and read your post on Christian Preaching as a Theological Practice. As a side note, I'm blessed to be in Bishop Willimon's conference and am trying to encapsulate his guidance in preaching practices for a program I'll be delivering at a lay speakers retreat. Tough Job!!!
Please visit again,

Art said...

As a Certified Lay Speaker, thank you for this post. (Although I am humbled by the level of service of those you mention)

Sometimes, I get a little peeved because Lay Speaking is overlooked or under-utilized in the Church. I have to remind myself that it's OK because we're not doing this for attention nor honor.

Thanks again for an inspiring and challenging post!

Brother Marty said...

I'm so humbled by your remarks. It is a selfless task that the lay speakers undertake.

We just do what we can do, in the interest of serving our great God.

Amen. Thanks, Bro!