When you think of someone in ministry, whom do you picture? For most people, the first person you think of might be an ordained pastor—perhaps one who has helped you through a difficult time. If you were to broaden the focus, who else would be included? What about that friend in church who prayed with you after your small group? What about that nurse whose faith infused the way he or she cared for you in the hospital? As United Methodists, we affirm that God calls all baptized Christians to ministry. God calls some, such as clergy, to ministry as vocation. God calls others, the laity, to vocation as ministry. No matter where your work or personal life might take you, God calls you to some form of ministry.
The UMC recognizes this Sunday, October 19, as Laity Sunday—one of ten officially recognized special Sundays. On this day, we encourage churches to celebrate the ministry of lay Christians both within and outside local churches. Congregations recognize lay ministry in various ways. Your church might share a story or two about members who are actively engaged in ministry. Lay people might take on a greater role in planning a worship service. Your pastor might invite a layperson gifted in preaching to offer the sermon. The General Board of Discipleship (GBOD) offers some great resources to help you celebrate Laity Sunday in your church.
Too many people in our churches view ministry primarily as the task of trained pastors. We often feel that we are unqualified or too busy. Trust that God will multiply your skills and efforts through the Holy Spirit. The leadership of ordained clergy remains central to our congregations, but pastors cannot and should not do the work of ministry alone. God calls all of us to lives of ministry. Take Laity Sunday as an opportunity to show how God is already doing this in our midst.