While planning for the large-scale evangelism work in the Twin Cities, Minnesota conference officers and Metro pastors realized two things: 1) the amount of work needed to lift up Jesus and 2) as the Lord blesses Revelation Speaks Peace it would be possible for congregations to outgrow our pastoral coverage by several hundred souls, creating a ministerial challenge. It was therefore decided to create a strong lay ministry.
Pastor Karen Lewis came on board to train lay ministers in conducting Bible studies and leading people to Christ. The most recent training sessions took place at our Minnetonka and Southview churches. A total of 54 individuals completed the comprehensive 16-week training program, which met weekly from August through December. Many who participated are now involved in Bible studies with friends, neighbors and relatives.
Many of the graduates of the 16-week Minnetonka lay training program (top) and the Southview program (bottom) are currently leading personal Bible studies with friends and relatives.
Testimonies from recent graduates reflect the spirit of the Minnesota Conference. One young man said, “This certificate means more to me than the one I just received from passing my CPA review.” Another person shared, “I have wanted to take a class like this and never had the opportunity until now.” Yet another said, “I have grown so much in your class and now see Jesus in a new light.”
Currently, as a result of this training program, there are over 116 personal Bible studies going on, along with 1,300 correspondence studies from the Discover Bible School. This is helping to alleviate the challenges of pastoral care as lay workers labor in cooperation with the pastors, lifting up Jesus in the community. This is a welcome way forward for the conference since the pastors are able to use their pastoral gifts more directly and many of the lay members are able to use their network connections for the kingdom.
While it is well known that people have reservations about receiving Bible studies from lay people, what we are seeing with this program is that these reservations can be overcome.
The Minnesota Conference is experiencing an exciting time because there is so much eagerness in our congregations to participate in this movement of lay work. It gives new meaning to the concept of a “priesthood of all believers.”
This article was also published in the March/April 2015 print edition of OUTLOOK. It was written by Brian Mungandi, vice president of administration and communication director for the Minnesota Conference.