Church Rewnewal Journey
Church Renewal Journey is a “pew-to-pew” ministry designed to assist the congregation in experiencing a spiritual awakening. Church Renewal is a ministry of the laity to mobilize Christians off the pew and into the mission field. A mission field that may be found right where we are.
We invite you to join us in the next step of this Church Renewal Journey, the Equipping Weekend. The Lay Ministry Weekend is the second step in the Church Renewal Process and many would say the most important step. The first weekend, The Lay Renewal Weekend or The Awakening Weekend, focuses on the principle that God knows me and desires to use me in His work in the world.
The second weekend, The Lay Ministry Weekend or The Equipping Weekend, goes a step deeper and focuses on the principle that since God desires to use me in His reconciling work in the world, He has prepared me and “shaped” me for that work.
The Lay Ministry Weekend follows the same general outline as The Lay Renewal Weekend with an outside coordinator and a team of lay people from other churches, except for the addition of a Teaching Resource Leader. This instructor leads the congregation in four teaching sessions based on the acrostic S.H.A.P.E. which indicates five different ways God prepares His people for His work in the world. After each of the first three teaching sessions, small groups are formed to discuss the teaching principles. The fourth and final teaching session is on Sunday morning during the Sunday School hour with all adults present followed by the worship hour (no small group discussion after this session). Outside team members are asked to share their ministry testimony and their Spiritual Gifts during the weekend and how they understand God has prepared them for His work.
The teaching material focuses on five ways God prepares His people for works of service.
The Friday evening service is used to set the context for the following three sessions. The instructor uses specific Biblical passages to remind the congregation that all Christians are Called to God’s reconciling work in the world, Spiritually Gifted for that work, Equipped by Pastors, Teachers and others, and sent by Jesus Himself into a world that is in desperate need of Good News. A five step process for discovering your ministry follows, the most important of which is step one where Paul urges all Christians to make our bodies a “living sacrifice” – living for God’s purpose and not your own. The evening concludes with an introduction to the concept of (S)piritual Gifts (ten truths about Spiritual Gifts) followed by a small group discussion.
The Saturday morning teaching session focuses on the Romans 12:6-8 passage for a list of Spiritual Gifts for discussion purposes. The teaching emphasizes throughout the weekend that the purpose of teaching about Spiritual Gifts is to motivate the listener to using their gifts not so that we might agree on which list is correct or what language we use to describe our gift. Characteristics and some misuses of each gift are discussed as well another way God uses to prepare his people for Service – i.e. through speaking directly to our (H)earts. Sometimes God can place a passion for a particular kind of service directly on our hearts. Finally, the concept of using our skills and (A)bilities for God’s purpose is introduced. Many examples of Christians doing just that are presented.
The Saturday evening service usually ends with an Affirmation Service led by the visiting coordinator. During this time, the church affirms one another individually for what that person has meant to them in their growth as a Christian. This is frequently a very moving experience for most who attend.
The Sunday morning teaching session is carried out with all adults together usually in the worship center during the normal Sunday School hour. Here a review is presented in an attempt to bring those who have not been in attendance “up to speed”. Then the last two means God uses to equip His people for service are laid out. A humorous presentation of our diverse personalities is shared and how God can use that diversity for His purpose. Finally, since all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose, we examine many different life experiences and how God might use one of those experiences as a ministry for those who are committed to living for His purpose.
Throughout the weekend, the emphasis is on using your gift for God’s purpose, not on presently a list of gifts as THE list or agreeing on exactly what language to use in describing a gift.
On the Sunday evening of the weekend, the team has gone and the church gathers to discuss what they have seen and felt during the weekend. The affirmation of individuals continues from Saturday evening and many commitments are made regarding “where do we go from here”? Many church leaders decide to offer classes on Discovering your Gift or reviewing the material presented during the weekend utilizing small groups and the book: The Christian Life: The Lay Ministry Weekend written by Donald Taft
The church may decide to continue the journey 6 –12 months later by scheduling another weekend, usually the Commissioning Weekend, or they may decide to follow a path of their choosing.
The Lay Ministry Weekend is a powerful tool to release the gifts of lay people to follow the path Christ has for them – for the most part, right where they are. If your church is looking for the right vehicle to do that, the Lay Ministry Weekend might be just what you need!