The logo for Lay Ministry symbolises the ministry of lay workers. It features two hands raised in prayer. The hands are in different colours, representing lay workers working hand in hand with pastors in ministry. The cross in the palms of the ministry team's hands emanates from the shape of the church underneath. The curve represents the Holy Spirit moving through the church out into the world.
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The vision of the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA) is that all congregations and organisations will have access to appropriately skilled lay workers to be involved in their ministries, and to equip and empower ministry partners as they build faith within their communities. As the Spirit works through these ministries, more people will experience Jesus’ love for them and commit to following him.
The term ‘lay ministry’ refers to areas of ministry that are led by appropriately trained and equipped lay people, and are focused on showing Jesus’ love to people, on caring for others, and on mentoring Christians in their faith.
Definition of a lay worker
A lay worker is a lay person who has been installed into a defined ministry position by a congregation or agency of the LCA. The position may be a paid one or occupied on a voluntary basis.
The Church Worker Support department maintains a register of LCA lay workers. To be eligible for inclusion on the register a lay worker will:
- occupy a position that has a written job description which includes a definition of the ministry, ministry goals and the specific responsibilities of the position
- have signed an employment agreement or a volunteer’s covenant agreement
- have been publicly installed into their position
- have completed lay worker accreditation requirements, or have committed to undertake those requirements
- be a practising member of the LCA (unless an exception has been granted by the district bishop).
Training of lay workers
The LCA is rightly concerned that those who would serve as lay workers in the LCA are fully equipped to carry out the service for which they are engaged. The training of lay workers is based on a blend of theoretical and practical competency-based learning, covering the following four knowledge and skills areas:
- theological/spiritual development
- leadership development
- character development
- generic and ministry-specific skills.
Theological understanding/spiritual development
The ministry of the lay worker must be underpinned by key theological foundations. Importantly, the learning process is not simply an academic exercise but rather a spiritual journey. Learners need to be encouraged in this journey by suitable mentors.
This area includes the ability to develop and mentor others, manage conflict, direct or influence others, facilitate ministry teams, engage, inspire and gain the commitment of others. For more specific senior lay work positions it may also include strategic thinking and planning, and advanced people and resource management skills.
To be effective in ministry, lay workers need to develop such attributes as interpersonal sensitivity, a concern for personal impact, relationship-building skills, the ability to show initiative, self-confidence, a team orientation, tenacity and resilience. They also need to be trained in self-awareness and be able to recognise and seek help in dealing with their own issues.
Generic and ministry-specific skills development
Generic ministry skills include ministry planning, goal setting, administration, time management and other organisational skills. Other skills will need to be developed that are specific to the ministry role being performed, for example, those related to being a youth worker, a contemporary worship leader, a spiritual life coordinator, a counsellor or a school chaplain.
It is the responsibility of the employing body to ensure that lay workers are properly equipped for the area in which they serve and, where appropriate, the employer may be required to allow time off so that the lay worker may engage in studies.
The LCA supports the training of lay workers through Australian Lutheran College (ALC) and other approved institutions. The Church Worker Support department team liaises with ALC in regard to curricula. The appropriateness for education and training requirements for lay workers is reviewed regularly by the LCA.
Support lay ministry
The LCA Lay Ministry Fund financially supports lay ministry initiatives that will be directed ultimately towards the transformation of people’s lives in Christ.
Your contributions will:
- encourage God's people to take up specialist vocations for which he has uniquely gifted them
- help create opportunities for the gospel to be proclaimed
- aid in the development and equipping of strong Christian lay leaders.
You will also become a partner in this growing and exciting ministry of our church, accepting the commission to 'go and make disciples' wherever they may be found.