Pastor Pam Northrup shares a word about Advanced Lay Ministries in the NC Synod at 2022 Fall Convocation.
An EMT, a lawyer, and a pilot walk into…
It sounds like a joke, but it’s not. On the last weekend of September, participants in the NC Synod’s Lay Preaching and Synod Authorized Minister formation programs gathered in Salisbury for a weekend intensive focused on worship and preaching. Every person participating in what is now the Advanced Lay Ministries program has a story of their own and why they are responding to God’s call on their life now. Their life experiences—which vary widely—are the soil in which they have been planted and bloomed, and they bring the richness of their whole lives to their studies.
That weekend they came together with the leadership team and the Rev. Dr. Mark Fitzsimmons to immerse themselves in what it means to preach the Good News of the gospel. Did you know that your preachers don’t rely on a central library of sermons? Each sermon is meant to be preached for a particular people in a particular time and place. Preaching begins with listening, so the students listened to Scripture, learned the practice of lectio divina, and explored what they heard in small groups. They crafted mini-sermons and practiced delivering those messages. They worshiped and explored the structure of worship, wrote prayers, heard preaching from rostered ministers, and learned about sermon development from a panel with decades of combined ministry experience.
The next step for these students will be to preach in their home congregations and to share those sermons with their small groups. Over the next five months, they’ll learn what comes easily and where they need to put in more work. And they will discover, if they haven’t already, the joy of sharing the Good News in congregations.
The preaching students will have completed their program after that and then they may be commissioned to preach as supply preachers in congregations that need a Sunday preacher. The Synod Authorized Ministers candidates may begin serving as supply preachers at that point, as well, but still have more coursework ahead. When they complete it, they may be given opportunities to serve in congregations that need preaching, sacraments, and pastoral care but do not have a regular rostered minister under call.
These lay people from congregations all across the North Carolina Synod were identified by their pastor and others who saw God’s call on their lives. With God’s help, they will learn and serve with joy.