Real Small Membership Churches + Certified Lay Ministers May = Stronger Churches


Photo by John Vachon, 1943 or 1943, United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division / Public domain

Are you "sort of angry" about the struggles of small churches to survive? If you are like me, you realize we live in a day and age where small membership churches are struggling. Some are in hospice mode, others existing, and still others just surviving. One major factor affecting the ability of small membership churches is pastoral leadership. Seminary and Course of Study pastors' salaries are out of reach. Unfortunately, the mission for some churches becomes raising the pastor's salary and keeping the lights on, not making disciples. You are "sort of angry" with our bishops and district superintendents because you are not sure if they are helping. Of course, we are not "sort of angry" with ourselves for not doing any more than complaining.

Are you or have you ever been "sort of called" by God? You felt like God wanted you to do something more. In fact, you knew it must have been God joking with you. So you never told anyone, shared it with a few friends and let it drop, or found something that felt safer to do. You just knew you were not called to full time ministry so you became a teacher, a janitor, lawyer, businessperson, construction worker, domestic engineer (housewife/husband), etc. You are comfortable where you are. You know that full-time ministry just will never work for you. BUT, the "sort of called" is a nagging drip which will not stop until you figure out what God wants you to do.

Unfortunately, the reality of your feelings of "sort of angry," collide with the "sort of called," and can no longer be ignored. If this is where you are, maybe God is calling you to Certified Lay Ministry. And maybe you will not have to leave your profession and can lead a small membership church.

The Lay Academy for Rural Church Ministries has developed two courses to help resolve your feelings of "sort of angry" and "sort of called." Both are online courses with weekly assignments, which you work on at a time that works into your schedule.

Course 1 - Discovering Your Call to Ministry (4 Weeks)

The Discovering Your Call to Ministry online course will help you discover your gifts and call to ministry. During the four weeks you will take a spiritual gifts inventory and explore your gifts for ministry, read how God called those in the Bible and how your call might be similar to theirs, and finally develop a clear statement of your call and gifts for ministry.

Course 2 - Foundations for Ministry (9 months with a once-a-month web/phone meeting)

The Foundations for Ministry course helps Certified Lay Ministers, first time pastors, and District Superintendent Assignment persons develop best practices for serving the local church in sermon writing, developing relationships with their congregation, building mission and vision. This class is also appropriate for pastors moving to new congregations.

This course is a blend of academic learning with practical on-the-job training. It allows the student to learn through both academic and hands-on experience.

The course focuses on a different aspect of ministry each month. All work and discussion forums will take place online and will include monthly web/phone meetings.

So if you are "sort of angry" and "sort of called" and want more information contact the Rev. Dr. Carl K. Ellis.