Knowing God is a gift for everyone
Insights asked Uniting Church members about their personal reflections on leadership training and lay ministry. Margaret Johnson shares her story below.
Those of us with children understand the value of exposing individuals to a breadth of experiences to allow hidden talents to emerge. The best dancers in the world will never know about their talent unless they are given the opportunity to identify their talent through “trying it out”.
When I enrolled in the Living our Faith series of weekend workshops, I really didn’t have any particular outcome in mind. The Living our Faith series was recommended as a way of my delving into the issues which I wanted to explore. I had no idea what I had signed up for – maybe a couple of weekends! I found out very quickly that there was so much more on offer and each unit of talks, workshops and student presentations was so enriching. I was always keen to participate in the next unit.
The course is excellent. Through it, I was able to develop an organised approach to a basic but satisfying exploration of introductory theology; the Old and New Testaments and Jesus. Accompanying these units is a unit on the Uniting Church in Australia and its values and another on leading worship. All of the units provide space for enquiry and growth, but also a time for discovery. Discovery of God deepened our understanding through the units studied and discovery of ourselves while working with the team and each other clarified our thoughts and drew out our talents. In addition we were exposed to the breadth of belief in mainstream Christian churches and were made familiar with the approach on the Uniting Church. One element of this approach was stated as people first, doctrine second.
This course benefits all who participate, but particularly those who feel led to be a lay preacher. Some people who don’t have an academic background may feel this course is not for them. This is not so. This course is designed to meet you where you are and help is always at hand.
And regardless of whether a participant takes on any leadership position after the course, they become a more effective contributor to their congregation.
The time I spent listening to and drinking in the Living our Faith weekends benefited me well past preparing me to be a lay preacher. It was a time when God was central to our thinking and we left enriched in spirit as well as more knowledgeable and more skilled. I have found that as a result of the growth which occurred I have more to offer. The joy I have experienced as a result of knowing God better through authentic teaching helps me to serve others that they might also experience that joy.
A way of introducing the units could be to invite the team to your own church and ask surrounding Uniting Churches to participate and sharing the cost, or a prospective student could attend a regular unit as an observer before committing themselves to more. Further, a congregation might give financial aid to a person wishing to attend. (Scholarships are available too).
An added bonus of this course is that it gives people with a range of talents a proper foundation for the work they do in the church. Those who are really talented at presenting children’s programs, or leading the singing or decorating the church or any other aspect of church life will do so more authentically after experiencing the Living our Faith Series.
There is something for everyone.