Back in February I posted a survey about lay speaking and lay leadership (“A Questionnaire About Lay Speaking”). I didn’t get much in the way of an on-line response (darn it!) but I got a fairly reasonable return when I surveyed the lay speakers in my district.
One of the reasons why I posted the questionnaire was because of the changes that are taking place in the Lay Speaking Curriculum developed by the General Board of Discipleship. These changes focus on making what we call lay speaking more of lay leadership.
I will be honest; I am leery of any changes that come from the top down and are passed on with the attitude that this is the way it is going to be. This may not have been the intention but it is the way that it was presented to some of us in this area.
Now, it will make the GBOD people and some conference officials happy to know that, at least in this area, it seems that lay speakers do, in fact, do more leading that speaking (at least that is my reading of the survey result – I will try to post a summary of those results sometime next week).
But if that is the case, then we need to think about how we prepare lay leaders and not try to make those trained in speaking into such (unless, of course, that is what they really want to be). I think that the idea of training people to be leaders is commendable and necessary but don’t do it at the expense of a training system in place that moves people into the ministry (an informal counting of the clergy in this district shows that 1 in 10 started as a lay speaker and move into the ministry because of that beginning).
Kevin Watson has posted a piece about one possible process, a process routed in the tradition and history of the United Methodist Church – “Empowering and Equipping Laity”. I encourage you to read this piece and add your thoughts on this issue, both on his site and here as well.