The Lay Leader

By Mitch Ross What does a Lay Leader really do? The United Methodist Church Book of Discipline outlines responsibilities for lay leaders, but that is the easy answer.       To answer candidly, we need to recognize the role of laity in the church. “The witness of the laity, their Christ-like examples of everyday living as well as sharing their own faith experiences of the gospel, is the primary evangelistic ministry through which all people will come to know Christ and The United Methodist ...


The Four Weeks of Advent

By Amy Thompson Advent is the season of the church in which we prepare our lives for the coming of Christ. Growing up, my favorite part of Advent was placing our advent wreath with its three purple candles and one pink candle next to our nativity scene. In the four weeks leading up to Christmas, we would read stories and scripture related to the themes of hope, peace, joy and love.   As a child, my interest was in the stories, but now as I think of these themes, I wonder do we really ...


Prayer Circles of Thanksgiving

Amy Thompson

By Amy Thompson The month of November reminds us to be thankful as we celebrate Thanksgiving. I along with many of you offer thanks for our health, family members, friends, employment and healing. I also offer thanks for the strong clergy and lay leadership that exists throughout the Missouri Conference. I offer this thanks throughout the year not just around Thanksgiving by using my prayer circles that I have created in my prayer journal. My prayer journal has webs of circles (literally ...


Leading an Active Prayer Life

Amy Thompson

By Amy Thompson As leaders, it is important to be intentional in your own personal spiritual development. Your personal commitment to growing in your faith could begin with many things. I would like to suggest prayer. An active prayer life can be a major piece to your spiritual development as you explore your relationship with God through quiet time, listening, requesting and conversation. My own prayer life dramatically changed a few years ago when a pastor recommended Mark Batterson’s book, ...


The Gift of Presence and Music in Mozambique

By Amy Thompson Here are the words from an email that I received in May prior to traveling to Mozambique in June: “We are preparing to receive you and the team. Let me share with you what preparing to receive means. The sound of voices floating through the air as you turn the corner to leave the terminal of the airport. The chanting and clapping of men, women and children as you arrive at a church or orphanage. As it is heard in Psalm, I will praise the Lord all of my life; I will sing praise ...


Preparation for Pastoral Transition

By Amy Thompson The month of June is known as Annual Conference time. Last month I asked you to keep the individuals attending and the work of conference in your prayers. This is your reminder…pray for us June 9-12!      June is also known as moving month for pastors. Some of our local churches are preparing to say goodbye to their pastor and to welcome their next pastor. This transition time creates a mix of feelings for both laity and clergy.       The Cabinet has shared resources with local ...


Connecting Through Conference

By Amy Thompson One of the things that I love about United Methodism is the connectional system. The connectional system reminds me how we are all connected in working for the Kingdom of God. We are not in the Kingdom– building work on our own. We can work together and learn from one another. I am reminded of how big our local connectional system is when I attend Annual Conference each year. If you stand in the vendor area located upstairs in the Expo Center, you can look out the windows and ...


Show No Mercy in Doing Justice

By John Miller When Methodists met, and John Wesley was in their midst, he often took special offerings for the poor, including five in one day from what his brother Charles called the “same poor exhausted people!” Charles said of John and his captive congregation. “He has no mercy on them.”      John Wesley showed no mercy in his collection efforts, or in his advocacy on social justice issues like slavery, because he faithfully lived the words of the prophet Micah: he did justice, and he truly...


Getting Closer to God During Lent

By Amy Thompson Well, Missouri Methodists, we are entering the season of Lent. Lent is the 40 days prior to Easter, excluding Sundays. It begins with Ash Wednesday. If you have attended an Ash Wednesday service then you know that the minister will mark the sign of a cross using ashes on your forehead. Part of Ash Wednesday is remembering that our lives are a gift from God which the ashes remind us of. Lent is a time to repent. We turn our lives toward Christ in a more focused intentional way ...


Rural Ministry in Missouri

By Karen Shearer, Mark Twain District Lay Leader A pastor friend of mine recently sent me some statistics that may be surprising: 77 percent of our United Methodist churches here in Missouri have weekly attendance of fewer than 100 people.* Furthermore, almost 60 percent of our churches have attendance of fewer than 50 people each week. Those churches with 50 or less, however, account for just 15 percent of our statewide weekly attendance.      Some may say, “So aren’t you stating the obvious? ...


Called to Lead

By Amy Thompson When we turn to scripture, we find numerous examples of God calling persons into leadership roles. The roles range from individuals involved in one-on-one ministry to specific situations to leading the masses. Ultimately, God calls all of us to lead. In the Maxwell Leadership Bible, John Maxwell references Genesis 1:26-31 as evidence that we are all born to lead.      He highlights some points based on this scripture.  Being made in God’s image means we were created to lead.  ...


The Gift of an Experience

By Amy Thompson I recently found myself involved in a conversation about gift giving. This individual was sharing the pressure she feels in selecting a gift for her children or family member. The conversation centered around seeking the perfect gifts to give and then a year later noticing that you are placing those same gifts in the donation pile. She even noted the disappointment felt when finding the gift hadn’t even been used.      She went on to share that she had heard a segment on the ...


An Attitude of Gratitude

As we enter the month of November, many of us take some time to pause and give thanks for the gifts in our life. Gifts like friendship, family, health. This year I am giving pause asking myself how do I show my thankfulness and gratitude throughout the year and not give special attention just around the Thanksgiving holiday? We can all create an attitude of gratitude that extends beyond the month of November. If we would pause daily or weekly we can identify persons, places and things to which ...


The Witness of the Laity

By Amy Thompson As our former conference lay leader, Brian Hammons, mentioned at Annual Conference in the laity address, the UM Book of Discipline Paragraph 127 reveals the key to the renewal of the Methodist movement is the witness of the laity. What does that mean? It means a challenge lays before the laity of the church to reach out into this world to help others know God. Many of us have various images in our minds when we hear the word witness. I offer this image. A Christ follower seeing ...


New Beginnings

A buzz is around the Missouri Conference. You may hear talk of transitions, new teams for the next quadrennium, a new conference lay leader, a new Bishop. What does all this mean for the laity and local church?


Faith Walk

By Amy Thompson Amid the endless topics available for my first article as Conference Lay Leader, I would like say thanks to all of those who have touched my life and been a part of my faith walk. While there are too many to name, I want to acknowledge a few as they were present at Annual Conference, making this transition more special to me.    My earliest memories of Sunday School contain Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. While shaping my early learnings of Jesus Christ, they continued to influence my life...


The Witness of the Laity

“The witness of the laity, their Christ-like examples of everyday living as well as the sharing of their own faith experiences of the gospel, is the primary evangelistic ministry through which people will come to know Christ and the United Methodist church will fulfill its mission.” This sentence from the UM Book of Discipline par. 127 reveals the key for renewal of the church.  Did you catch that?  The key to renewal of the Methodist movement is the witness of the laity.  Not just laity ...


General Conference Laity Address

LAITY ADDRESS Presentation Date: Fri. May 13, 8:45-9:15am SCOTT JOHNSON: Good morning! I am Dr. Scott Johnson, I am one of six laity representatives addressing you today from across the global connection. I am the conference lay leader from the Upper New York Annual conference. It is an honor to be one of your presenters this morning….(PAUSE)… Jesus is clear, “19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, ...


General Conference – Here We Go!

General Conference, the every-four-year gathering of United Methodists from around the globe, begins soon – May 10.  864 delegates and a lot of others will descend upon Portland, Oregon for almost two weeks.  Including 12 delegates (lay and clergy) from Missouri, with 4 alternates.  During the conference we will celebrate ministry, worship, pray, deliberate, and vote on legislative proposals to set policy and direction for the church.  Sounds like a typical Methodist conference, doesn’t it?  ...


Our Next Bishop?

The question was pondered a lot by Missouri conference leaders recently as they interviewed several candidates:  “Could this person be our next bishop?”  I’ll describe those interviews below.  But first, some background:  Bishop Robert Schnase has provided exemplary leadership of our Missouri Conference for almost twelve years.  We’re so thankful for his ministry, and we’re glad that he still will be with us to preside over our upcoming annual conference in June.  With his twelve years of ...


General Conference 2016 – Preparations Continue

General Conference is coming up soon. In just a few weeks, May 10-20, 864 delegates from around the world will meet in Portland, Oregon to celebrate, pray, worship, deliberate, and vote on proposals to set policy and direction for the entire United Methodist Church.  Twelve of those delegates are from Missouri (six lay and six clergy), with four alternates – all elected last June at our Missouri Annual Conference session. I’m honored to serve in leading the delegation, along with Rev. Cody ...


Four final “Words for a Fruitful Lay Ministry”: Simple, discipline, fruit, & spirit

To finish up this 4-part series, we explore the last four words on our list of the “Ten Words for a Fruitful Lay Ministry.”  As you recall, the ten are:  Jesus, Mission, Pastor, Field, Connect, Read, Simple, Discipline, Fruit, and Spirit.  Previous articles discussed the first six.  I hope this series is helpful to you in continuing to grow and strengthen basic practices in your ministry leadership.   Simple brings to mind Basics. Essentials. Core practices. Our need to make sense out of ...


Next Words for a Fruitful Lay Ministry

For this first month of 2016, we explore three more of the “Ten Words for a Fruitful Lay Ministry.” As you recall, the ten are: Jesus, Mission, Pastor, Field, Connect, Read, Simple, Discipline, Fruit, and Spirit. Previous articles discussed Jesus, Mission, and Pastor. I hope this series is helpful to you in continuing to grow and strengthen basic practices in your ministry leadership.   What does the word Field have to do with lay ministry? Well, maybe the image of an empty field isn’t what we’...


General Conference 2016 -- Our Delegation Begins Preparing

Have you been wondering what our Missouri Conference delegates to the 2016 General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference have been doing since they were elected in June? Well, even though the conferences are still months away (General Conference in May, Jurisdictional in July), they’ve already spent a lot of time preparing. In fact, the full delegation of 28 people (14 lay and 14 clergy) have met three times in Columbia and several attended a jurisdictional briefing in Oklahoma City.


Two More "Words" for a Fruitful Lay Ministry: Mission & Pastor

This month we continue with the next two of my “10 Words for a Fruitful Lay Ministry.” As you recall, the ten are: Jesus, Mission, Pastor, Field, Connect, Read, Simple, Discipline, Fruit, and Spirit. Last month we noted that Jesus is “THE Word.” Now we turn to “Mission” and “Pastor.” Leaders in the church absolutely must have a clear focus upon their “Mission,” or purpose, if they want to be successful in ministry. We’re very different from other organizations, as our purpose involves a focus ...

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