Rev Sheila Prest shares about Local Lay Leaders in the Wirral
We are living in challenging times, are we not? Not just in our churches, but in our world. Yet the example of the woman anointing Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume was the epitome of extravagance beyond our imagining. She was compelled to offer all she had in that one loving act in response to God’s love towards her. Extravagance and risk-taking and generosity beyond measure is a calling by God.
Our Methodist tradition includes a belief in “the priesthood of all believers”. In other words, our church families are encouraged to enable those lay people within our midst to release those skills and abilities which we inherently have, ofttimes remaining dormant, for use in the furtherance of the kingdom of God. Could you become a missional partner in God’s plan for the Wirral?
Let me explain. It is a fact that the number of presbyters available for service is declining year on year. Wirral is no different from other circuits throughout the connexion in that trained ministers are a not as prevalent as in past decades. How can we best answer the call to serve our communities, continue to be missional, adhere to our Methodist roots and maintain a Christian presence here on Wirral?
Well, here is our opportunity to take a risk and be extravagantly generous. Our churches are all unique and made up of individuals with different skills and calling. I ask the question: Do you feel called to serve in some capacity in your church or area?
Having been encouraged by the response to the Away Day last September regarding local lay leaders and the response to the demands coming from churches for more leadership, the Circuit Leadership Team have made the decision to explore this area of ministry on your behalf and report back with their findings. At the circuit meeting in June, there will be an opportunity to begin to look in more depth as to the direction that this may lead us, as we contemplate our future together as one.
A steering group has been formed to go into detail as to how we might achieve our aims, which are to further our mission working with our church councils and under their authority in order to fulfil our calling.
On your membership ticket is the term “OUR CALLING”. It mentions the areas which underpin what we as Methodists are all about. They are fourfold and read as follows: “Learning and Caring”, “Worship”, “Evangelism” and “Service”. These are all fundamental to our beliefs and enable us to release our talents and inherent God-given gifts for use in God’s service.
The plan is to begin a process in September 2019. It is a process and, all the time, folk who come forward to offer themselves will be supported during their exploration of their calling. This will be a time of discernment on their part, followed by a period of matching their gifts to the wishes and desires of church councils.
It is of utmost importance that this process is carefully and sensitively managed, so we are determined to set this up over a period of time in order to get things right. Appropriate training will be offered throughout and people will be nurtured and guided through the process. We will be involving outside agencies from the Connexion as well as internal training where appropriate.
It could be that by Sept 2020 the Wirral could look like a different place. Planting these seeds in a fertile soil may give us all the opportunity to see new buds forming and new shoots appearing in the future in order to enable the churches on Wirral to flourish and grow in new ways and secure a Christian presence in our neighbourhoods.
Finally, please spread the word, pray, encourage everyone to search their hearts and ask the questions:
“Are you willing to take a risk”,
“Are you willing to follow the call and release those gifts which are individual to you and are God given?”
“Can you offer with extravagant generosity?”