How many laity in your congregation are equipped and deployed in ministry (not meetings)?  Continuing in the series of Barna’s, The State of Your Church, the third needed church shift identified is, “A renewed Church required contributors and participants in gospel mission not just consumers of gospel content.” 

In an earlier blog, we looked at this shift from the perspective of the lack of leadership development.  Now we are going to explore this from another lens and different set of data.  Barna’s research indicates only three in ten Christians have taken an assessment, inventory or test identifying their gifting, talents, and abilities.  In addition, three out of four practicing Christians desire to find a way to follow Jesus that connects to the broader world in which they live and desire to make a difference in the world.  There are laity in our churches that have these desires but are not necessarily equipped or empowered to do so.  Furthermore, the Millennial and Gen Z generations have a strong desire to be involved in organizations and movements that roll up their sleeves and make a difference in the lives and communities in which they live.  If our churches are not offering these opportunities, these generations are often missing from the life of these congregations.

Often, people do not feel like they have any gifts, talents, or abilities that could convert to serving in ministry.  Asking about people’s passions and experiences is also helpful in connecting and equipping laity for ministry.  This is why the gifts assessments or inventory is so helpful.  It is a tool that not only helps laity identify their gifts, talents, and abilities, but we must also use this tool to help them connect these gifts, talents, and abilities to the ministries.  Sometimes those connections are not as obvious as one might think.  This is part of the equipping and encouraging portion of the process.  Too often we skip this step leaving laity feeling ill-equipped and, therefore, there is a failure of confidence and no ministry connection nor deployment occurs.

Identifying, recruiting, equipping, and deploying laity for ministry is key to helping laity find a way to follow Jesus that connects to the broader world in which they live and make a difference in the world.  Without these intentional steps and connections, clergy will be overwhelmed with the weight of the ministry, laity will feel disconnected, and the mission will go unserved.

Where do you start?  If your church has not offered these tools for your laity, start with offering an assessment tool.  Next, help laity connect their gifts, talents, passions, and abilities to ministries.  Finally, equip and deploy laity in their matched ministry area.  Continue to encourage, celebrate, and equip.  Repeat.