“Marks of a Faithful Regional Church” is an important document that all regions have adopted and reaffirmed over the years. These marks are excellent signposts for regional church life. In the coming months we will be lifting these up for own information and edification.
The fourth mark of a faithful regional church is calling out and developing leaders. The tag and description both frame leadership as call: “The Region assists individuals and congregations in discerning God’s call as they move through life’s journey.”
Leadership and ministry are a calling. I have long held to the belief that as soon as we rise from the water of baptism we are called to ministry. Each of us have gifts for a particular ministry. The faithful regional church serves as a partner with the local congregation in helping people understand their gifts and discern their call.
So often when we talk about call and ministry, our minds immediately call up the image of the ordained or commissioned minister. We may envision the called minister in a congregational setting or the chaplain serving in a clinical, military, or institutional setting. We may also imagine those called to serve in teaching ministries.
The faithful regional church calls out and develops leaders for ordained and commissioned ministry through the work of the regional Commission on Ministry. This group of dedicated volunteers walks alongside those who are preparing for service as ordained or commissioned ministers. They meet with candidates on a regular basis, tracking their progress through seminary or other training. They offer counsel and guidance. By having partners on the journey, candidates enter service to church and community better equipped to carry out their call.
Ministry, however, is not done in a vacuum. Those called to serve share a connection with colleagues, a connection that builds up each individual ministry. The faithful regional church encourages ministers to come together on a regular basis. Often this happens in district gatherings, but the fellowship can manifest in other settings as well. As often as they are able, your regional ministers express the ministry of the regional church by active participation when clergy gather for mutual support.
Still, leadership in ministry is not limited to those called out and equipped as commissioned and ordained clergy. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) thrives on the leadership of laity. Elders lead in ministries of worship and teaching, tending to the spiritual life of the congregation. Deacons lead in ministries of service. Other members of the church express their gifts in administrative ministries, perhaps serving as treasurers or board chairs.
The faithful regional church offers opportunities for these leaders to come together, connecting congregations in service to one another, even as they serve their communities. The regional church provides resources and training for these leaders in the local congregation.
Leadership and ministry are callings. Some are called to the set apart ministry of ordained and commissioned ministry. Others express their ministry with the local congregation, but all are called, gifted, and equipped by God to serve. The faithful regional church calls out and develops these leaders across the life of the church.
To read the other articles in the continuing "Marks of a Faithful Regional Church" series, click the linked titles below. All 12 articles will be posted by the end of 2020.