Written by Rev. Sherrie Schork
I’ve been writing down my thoughts on Equipping Ministry for First Words for almost two years now. My earlier articles were introductions of what this ministry encompasses and the work involved with becoming an equipping church. Working together with the Equipping Ministry Team I began using the word connection to better describe our work. Having our language more compatible with our church’s culture we planned the first “Connection Celebration” emphasizing our connection to God, one another, and the needs of others.
On Sunday, August 30 we will be holding our next Connection event. We are making plans for new ways to experience this ministry as well as keeping what we felt was most successful from last year’s event.
In preparation for the upcoming “Celebrating Connection” I have continued to lean into the scriptural teaching given the early church on the “Priesthood of all Believers.” This is a basic scriptural tenet for equipping ministry. It is foundational for helping to understand why this strategic ministry continues to be of value within the life and discipleship of the church.
1 Peter 2:9-10 says, But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
This ancient description of what it means to be the living church is not one that is lifted up on a regular basis, and yet it is part of the doctrinal standards of the United Methodist Church. It told the early Christians that God’s dwelling place was no longer kept within the tabernacle and tended only by a priestly family that moved between the holy and the ordinary. Through Christ they were now the dwelling place of God as channels of grace that bridged the holy and the ordinary as Christ’s body, the church.
This teaching is still needed in the church today. It means that as Christians we are all called and designed to be in ministry. Two thousand years later this holy priesthood continues through us. All of us are to discover and claim that particular outlet in our lives that answers God’s call, uses our spiritual gifts, and builds up the church as the Body of Christ.
Equipping ministry works to develop the systems within the church for each person to find that particular outlet. At First United Methodist Church we believe that finding our connection is directly tied to living out our mission. This is stated best through our church’s foundational convictions stating that all members are ministers, each a valued and valuable part of the body, equipped with gifts for the good of the whole. And that our mission will be realized when the church intentionally and successfully places a high priority on encouraging, equipping, and empowering persons to use their gifts and follow their passions in service to Christ, the church, and the world. In other words we are a priesthood of believers called into ministry and mission to become the Body of Christ.
Please mark your calendars to join us on Sunday, August 30 as we “Celebrate Connection” from 10:00-11:15 in the Christian Growth Center. There will be more than sixty-five ministry and mission opportunities represented, a Sunday school and small group ministry fair highlighting fall programs, activities for youth and children (K-5) and opportunities to connect your spiritual gifts in practical ways. Just like last year we will have lots of great fellowship, food, music, and pictures. If you have any questions regarding the event feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 456-9475.