Lay, Clergy Partnership Key to Church Vitality
Conference Lay Leader Rhonda Whitaker urged laity to accept their responsibility in working with their pastor to increase church vitality during the Laity Address at the 2011 Annual Conference.
Referring to the Call to Action Report
released last year, Whitaker spotlighted four key drivers for one of church vitality:
- Multiple small groups for children and youth
- High percentage of spiritually engaged laity who assume leadership roles
- A mix of traditional and contemporary worship services
- Effective pastoral leadership, including inspirational preaching, mentoring laity and effective management
“Notice that in each of these drivers, both clergy and laity have to be involved,” Whitaker noted. “Laity, making disciples is not a spectator sport. We cannot be pew potatoes, watching paid staff, be it one pastor or a slew of employees, do all the work. And clergy, making disciples is not a solo act. You’ve got to be willing to let go of the controls and share the power with your congregations.”
Whitaker said the key to strengthening the clergy-lay partnership is starting with the basics – the Means of Grace.
“Vital leaders are spiritually engaged,” Whitaker said. “The means of grace provides the way to become spiritually engaged.”
Whitaker added that years of decline can be turned around. “Thank you, Lord, that the God we serve is in the business of second chances, of breathing life into dry bones, of resurrection and new life. Clergy cannot do it alone. Laity cannot do it alone. Fortunately, we can do it with the Holy Spirit in us, guiding us and sustaining us.”
Whitaker said the choice is really a choice between spiritual constipation or spiritual transformation. “Are we going to accept slow decline or embrace resurrection?” she asked. “It’s our choice, it’s our future, and more importantly, it’s our children’s future.”