Shared ministry exercises good stewardship of our collective God-given gifts. It embraces all congregations– small or large, rural or urban. It is simply an effective way to collaborate in various ministry areas and provide mutual benefits and greater opportunities for sharing the Gospel.
To help congregations to engage in shared ministry, Shared Ministry Collaboration is one of the critical targets for this triennium. Included in this, is an emphasis on shared ministry workshops–where church and lay leaders are brought together to design actionable steps for ministry initiatives, circuit collaboration–where circuits are encouraged to hold a Circuit Convocation in a non-convention year to discuss greater collaboration for the sake of the Gospel, and a shared ministry resource toolbox–where best practices and tools will be gathered together and ministry coaches will be trained to assist congregations in all aspect of ministry.
One of these shared ministry workshops was held this fall in Freistatt. President Lee Hagan and Rev. Bill Geis, Director of Mission Services, met with several churches in the Southwest Circuit. Rev. Ken Lampe of Grace in Aurora was in attendance. Pastor Lampe has previously served as president of the Mid-South District, and now, in his retirement, serves as an interim pastor at Grace, whose weekly worship averages between 30-45.
He says that the meeting presented many different ideas and ways to connect with neighboring congregations. And he notes that shared ministry can be more than just two churches sharing a pastor on Sunday mornings. Nearby churches can partner on things like having LWML events or having combined youth group events. Some congregations could connect and rotate pastors doing nursing and homebound visits. “It’s a different way of thinking,” notes Pastor Lampe, “becoming a team.”
But this partnership takes relationships. “I think part of the feeling is that in this high-tech society, we’ve lost a lot of the relationship activities that congregations were involved in,” Pastor Lampe comments. “If shared ministry is going to work, you have to trust each other, and to get to trust each other, you have to get to know each other.” Sometimes these steps can be as easy as sharing congregational news with one another, either through electronic news, Sunday announcements, or a bulletin board. “I don’t think anybody has an exact solution,” Pastor Lampe concludes. “But we are looking at options and know that God will guide.”