Rethink Laity Sunday

July 31, 2018

Submitted by Gayla Jo Slauson, Don McCammon and Margaret Hotze
Co-Lay Leaders, Mountain Sky Conference of The United Methodist Church

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom…" -Colossians 3:16

Who could have guessed that embracing Laity Sunday would prove so relevant to effective church organization in 2018? Yet it is. 

Trends in management theory emphasize the need for concepts such as agility and nimbleness in today’s organization. How does an organization become agile and nimble? One significant way is to provide opportunities for Peer to Peer (P2P) learning. P2P involves encouraging leaders from the ranks to teach/present to/interact with others from the ranks. Laity Sunday so exemplifies P2P learning. 

Of course, this concept is far from new. Even Aristotle used archons (peer student leaders). Laity are peers in the church, relating in ways that often allow for greater understanding and application of real-world examples of faith being lived.

Laity Sunday is a Special Sunday established by the General Conference and scheduled for the third Sunday in October. This day that provides a focused opportunity to celebrate the ministry of all lay Christians. Flexibility for local church programming means that other Sundays can be designated as Laity Sunday if needed. 

In some churches, Laity Sunday may have lost significance. Perhaps tradition involved having a brave layperson act in the role of clergy, bringing a message and often leading the other parts of the service as well. This year, let’s consider other possibilities. Let's consider rethinking Laity Sunday.

Here are three suggestions for alternative approaches to involve laity in the service:
  1. Have three laypersons present three- to five-minute testimonies. Have them base their talk on the theme "Therefore Go! With Hope through Offering Christ."  Have them consider one way they see that Christ is being offered to others with hope through their lives or their ministries, or through the lives of others (historical people, fictional people, scriptural characters, ministries from around the globe). Perhaps use a timer to help with transitions from one speaker to another. People are often more willing to give a short three-minute testimony or a brief talk than a larger, more formal sermon, and you can bring in diverse perspectives by having a variety of individuals present. 
     
  2. Present via a panel of “experts” and a facilitator that come from laity in the church inolved various ministries. Each can present briefly and take a few questions from the audience. For example, have an expert on the panel from UMW, one from youth ministries, one from a group that bakes pies for the homeless shelter, and so forth. Be sure to give time for questions and have a facilitator so that one panelist does not dominate the discussion.
     
  3. Present by having a group of laity help create and act out a short skit that reflects how hope might be offered to someone who has little hope, or how hope has been offered in a Biblical story. An example might be a skit in how people might act when someone asks for cash because they are hungry. 
Make Laity Sunday a highlight of the year, engaging and providing interaction for several lay persons in your church this year. Doing so can help laity in your church to develop leadership skills, feel empowered to reach out to others, share their faith, and get to know each other better. Additionally, embracing Laity Sunday can assist us to become more effective through P2P Learning!

For additional information, resources are available from Discipleship Ministries at www.umcdiscipleship.org/leadership-resources/ministry-of-the-laity.