Imagine that it’s a Sunday morning and think about your church and the churches nearby. On a Sunday morning, right across our Diocese and all over the country in Anglican churches and in the churches of all our ecumenical partners, people young and old are volunteering to help to ensure the smooth running of their church and, without the thousands of volunteer hours that they all put in, the church would be in something of a pickle as things would not all be done. But it is not just within our churches that congregation members are at work it in their local communities and at their places of employment too. We are all involved together in sharing the Good News.
It is this sense of willingness to help and to serve God, both in the church and in the community, that the Season of Lay Ministries, which Bishop Christopher called for earlier in the year, is designed to celebrate. For without the work that so many people do we would not have a clean church, flowers, lessons read, intercessions led, coffee made, sessions for our young people or so many other things that we have come to expect Sunday by Sunday in our churches and all the work that happens in our wider communities.
One of the things that impresses me so much about our Diocese is people’s willingness to get involved and to help each other and those around them. There are so many stories of things that people have been involved in: there are the many food banks around our Diocese, quite a few are linked to churches and even those which are not are often staffed – at least in part – by people from our churches. There are the night shelters which run around our church networks, and are helped to keep going by people from different churches banding together day by day and week by week in their local area. Then there are hospital chaplains and those who go into local hospices regularly or who are part of the pastoral care team in the parish who visit those who are unable to go out much. The list is endless.
Such are the works which God calls us all to; lay and ordained, working together. You may not think of the work that you do within your parish or in the local community as a calling or a ministry but everything that we do in our churches and communities is part of our work in the mission and ministry of God.
The tasks which so many people undertake are important and are part of the ministries to which we are all called as disciples. The new Lay Ministries in the Diocese of Southwark are designed to help to make sure that the work that everyone does is valued and recognised. We have a whole series of possible ministries: those which are affirmed (that is selected, trained and recognised in the parish), those which are commissioned (ministries which are selected, trained and recognised across the Diocese) and those which are Licensed ministries (selected and trained in the Diocese and recognised nationally).
It might be that you feel called to do a little more – just a little nudge deep within you might be telling you that you could be involved in preaching, pastoral work or working with the young people in the church in a more formal way. It might be that exploring an affirmed, commissioned or licensed ministry is for you and this will help in getting some more training in the work that you feel called to do.
Of course, none of us have to be affirmed, commissioned or licensed to share God’s love with those around us. We are all called in every area of our life to live lives that show that we are followers of Jesus. Let’s celebrate all that God has done for us in the lives of service that we live and let’s celebrate all that we do together as God’s people to serve our communities.
Find out more about Lay Ministries in the Diocese of Southwark at southwark.anglican.org/layministries.