Getting Started: a Compilation of Suggestions

As part of our development of the "user friendly" resource in developing a ministry in daily life focus within a parish, we wrote several ecumenical leaders in the ministry in daily life movement and asked them three questions:

We heard from: Kathleen J. Crane, Robert E. Reber, Marjory Zoet Bankson, Patricia N. Page, William E. Diehl, CLAY, Edward White. We have compiled their responses and share them with you now as a preamble to the sections which follow. You will find descriptions and order information on the resources they recommended in the Resources section of this book.

STEP 1. To get started - determine where your parish is.

William Diehl, a Lutheran layman, author, speaker, and pioneer in recent years in this focus, outlined three situations which determine the direction of the first steps:

SITUATION 1: The ordained leadership initiates the idea. Here the pastor should try to get the lay leadership to share the vision. The best example of this scenario is documented in Davida Crabtree's book, The Empowering Church. Once the lay leadership "gets it" with respect to the vision, various structural and programmatic changes are made in the parish which bring the other members along. This situation is not common because most ordained clergy still think in terms of "lay ministries" within a congregation. Laypersons assisting with worship, serving on committees, and helping with pastoral duties among the membership are not being helped to claim their ministries in daily life.

SITUATION 2: One or more lay leaders in the parish want to initiate the "focus". I would suggest that they encourage the rest of the leadership group and the pastor to schedule a weekend retreat on Ministry in Daily Life. They should contract with an experienced outside resource person to lead the retreat weekend which would run from Friday evening through Sunday noon. Most of the retreat time would be given to helping the leaders understand the meaning of Ministry in Daily Life and especially helping each person discern what are his/her particular ministries. The last two hours of the retreat would be devoted to strategizing how to introduce Ministry in Daily Life into the congregation.

SITUATION 3: One or more members of the parish has the vision and wants to share it with the rest of the parish. (This is the most common situation and also the most difficult.) What is needed here is a small core of members; therefore, the one or more visionaries need to develop more support. This can be done by: 1) forming a support group; 2) organizing a retreat weekend; 3) offering an adult study series, etc. In my experience, the retreat weekend is again the best entry point. Once there is a core group, approaches can be made to the parish leadership to try some "experimental" programs. The leadership seldom will agree to some new programs without knowing about them in detail; they usually will agree to new programs if it is clear that they are experimental. The descriptions of the three scenarios are obviously abbreviated and have many nuances, but I hope you get the idea.

STEP 2. Develop a process of raising the consciousness of the parish and individual Christians.

Through education and formation: This needs to undergird all that is planned. Integrate this focus into existing education and formation processes and/or develop processes that:

Other suggestions:

Parish life provides many opportunities to keep the focus before the congregation. Among the possibilities:

Build a core group of parish leaders committed to this focus by holding a retreat or intensive study. (See suggestions below and in Resources section).

Focus on Gifts Identification as a means to help members of the congregation identify their gifts and continue to develop and use them in their daily life and have them affirmed by the church community.

STEP 3. Going deeper.

After getting started, the primary means of going deeper will depend on your individual congregation's situation. The key will be to integrate this focus into the on-going life of the congregation and to begin implementing the natural changes in liturgy, structure/organization, goals, and lifestyle of the congregation and its members.

Finally we want to share with you some of the cutting edge issues that our advisors mentioned, as you will undoubtedly encounter some of them in the days ahead.

Some suggested resources most frequently
mentioned by our advisors:


Of Human Hands, by Gregory R. Augustine Pierce

The Monday Connection, by William Diehl

Cry Pain, Cry Hope, by Elizabeth O'Conner

Liberation of the Laity, by Anne Rowthorn

The Church in the Marketplace, by Archbishop George Carey

Converting Nine to Five, by John Haughey

Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster

The Empowering Church, by Davida Crabtree


Linking Faith and Daily Life, by Robert Reber

Monday's Ministries, by Nelvin Vos

The Church of Jesus Christ: Its Mission and Ours, by Robert R. Hansel

Ministry Exploration, by Jean Haldane

All in a Days Work: Ministry on the Job, Augsburg

Working: Making a Difference in God's World, by Carol L. Weiser


Day by Day, from Cathedral Films

Values in Vocation, by Archbishop George Carey

NOTE: For descriptions and order information see the Resources section.

Kathleen J. Crane is a writer, teacher, and consultant in the areas of Spirituality and Ministry of the Laity.

Robert E. Reber is Dean of Auburn Theological Seminary, New York.

Marjory Zoet Bankson is President of faith at Work. (See Organizations in the Resource section.)

Patricia N. Page is a Christian educator and a visiting lecturer at Duke Divinity School, Formerly the director of the National Institute for Lay Training and a professor of education at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, she is the author of All God's People are Ministers, Augsburg Press, 1983.

William E. Diehl is president of The Coalition for Ministry in Daily Life. (See Organizations in the Resource section.)

Edward A. White is a senior consultant of The Alban Institute. A retired executive of the National Capital Presbytery in Washington, D. C., White lives in Washington, D. C.

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