Home Engaging Lay Leadership - Issue #103

Engaging Lay Leadership - Issue #103

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At Oregon City United Methodist Church, laypeople lead in a plethora of ways -- organizing community gardens, regularly sharing their faith stories in worship, leading faith-forming small groups, supporting Latin American women in poverty through fair trade ministries, hosting homeless families, and much more. The organization of the church facilitates this ever-expanding circle of lay leadership by supporting new and existing ministries that engage people at the intersection of their passions, skills, and calling.

The church has five teams: radical hospitality, passionate worship, intentional faith formation, risk-taking mission and service, and extravagant generosity. Anyone from the faith community can propose a ministry related to these five areas of Christian discipleship. A fundamental role of the teams' leaders is to help people launching new endeavors or taking on new leadership roles succeed. This support frees and inspires more laity to lead. The commitment to shared leadership helps to avoid isolation and burnout. As one member reflected, "When you are new to a ministry or want to start a ministry, people welcome you. They get jazzed with you and cheer you on. It is very encouraging. People step up and pull together to get behind the efforts."

The commitment to engage more people in spiritual leadership is facilitated by other measures as well. Committees have been streamlined so that people spend less time in meetings and more time in frontline ministry and involvement. The church has used the services of a leadership coach with professional expertise in helping leaders and ministry teams grow more effective. The coaching has included the use of gifts assessment and appreciation tools as well as helping leaders to develop new approaches when dealing with difficult situations.

Some Questions for Discussion

  • How does your congregation help people discover where their passions, skills, and callings intersect? How do you support them in acting on these discoveries?
  • How does your congregation equip leaders to be coaches who develop new leaders? Are there people in the congregation or community who have expertise in organizational coaching that might be helpful to your core leadership team?

Kevin Witt is the former Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries at Discipleship Ministries. You may read more about Oregon City UMC at www.oregoncityumc.com.


In 2007 church leaders throughout The United Methodist Church in the U.S. were invited to identify churches that demonstrated the vision of discipleship described in the twelfth chapter of Romans. Over 200 churches were surveyed or visited. Issue #103. © 2011 Discipleship Ministries. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to copy this page for use in United Methodist congregations.