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Watch people discover their gifts

Pastor talking to church member

Colleen Croxall invites us to lean into the theme of this year’s Laity Sunday by thinking of ways to encourage others to live out the gifts God has given them.

Ypsilanti: Lincoln Community UMC

Laity Sunday, set for October 15 this year, is always a special day for me, as we take time to recognize the important role lay leaders play in local congregations and districts and at the conference level. It certainly does take a village. We are a small congregation at Lincoln Community UMC, but we have multiple laity that share their many gifts, including:

    • Serving as liturgist
    • Serving communion
    • Providing music for our services
    • Keeping bulletin boards and display cases up to date and seasonal
    • Teaching children’s Sunday school
    • Collecting the offering
    • Running audiovisual equipment
    • Spearheading missional opportunities
    • Knitting/crocheting prayer shawls
    • Sending birthday cards to members

This year, Laity Sunday emphasizes discipleship and healthy, sound words that encourage love and abundant life together. Learn more about this theme and find worship resources via Discipleship Ministries. If October 15 doesn’t work for your congregation, celebrate the gifts and graces of your laity on a date that works best for you.

Watching people discover and use their gifts has always been gratifying to me. It reminds me of an experience I had that stays with me still today.

Several years ago, we welcomed some new members into our congregation. These new members included a retired couple who were the parents of one of our long-time members. During coffee hour after the service, I talked with Mary about her gifts and how she saw herself participating in the life of our church. “Well,” she said, “I don’t have any gifts I can share. It’s not always easy for me to get around — I move pretty slowly these days. I don’t drive after dark. I can’t think of anything I could do to serve the church.” I could tell this made her very sad. “Can you pray?” I asked. Her face immediately lit up! “Oh yes, I can certainly do that!” she exclaimed. From that moment on, she faithfully prayed for those persons listed on our prayer list and those names that were brought up during prayer requests.

All of us — clergy and laity — are Christ’s authentic presence in the world. Each of us is called with a mission, with gifts to fulfill ministry that will strengthen God’s kingdom here on earth.

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget, but we are all uniquely created and given abilities to uplift others. Think about all the people who have encouraged you throughout your Christian journey. If possible, send them a note or call them to let them know what their encouragement has done for you.

After that, ponder this question: Who might you be able to uplift today?

“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9, NRSV).

As of January 1, 2024, Colleen Croxall will begin service as the Conference Director of Lay Servant Ministries for the Michigan Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Last Updated on October 10, 2023

The Michigan Conference