Every congregation in GNJ is rooted in the strength of laity leadership. Great ministry happens because leaders in our congregations partner with clergy to create churches with inspiring worship, dynamic small groups, enthusiastic evangelism, radical generosity and engaged community mission.
The Laity Leadership Academy, sponsored by the GNJ Board of Laity, is designed to equip congregational leaders to continue moving their ministry forward.
The Academy, held on September 28 at the Mission and Resource Center, inspired lay leaders to reach higher and make their congregations stronger. From the new and fresh look on youth ministry to the power of storytelling and spiritual vitality, participants were resourced and equipped with tools to lead their congregations well.
New this year was “Innovation in Youth Ministry,” led by Next Generation Ministries staff Kerwin Webb, Youth Program Coordinator and Davidson Sutherland, Youth and Campus Program Coordinator. The workshop was especially designed for youth volunteers and focused on new ways to engage young people .
Rev. Gina Yeske , GNJ’s Director of Small Groups delved into “Storytelling through Small Groups,” offering ways in which congregations can infuse vitality into their small groups through the power of language.
“Our day of storytelling was fun! We bonded as we shared stories about ourselves and our churches,” said Yeske. “We ‘geeked out’ on new ways to digitally share and learned video storytelling basics. The world is in need of stories of hope and grace. This group has taken the first step in preparing to share their life, passions, dreams and hopes that God has planted in them with others.”
Track 3, “Generosity: Moving from Scarcity to Celebration,” was led by Rev. Jana Purkis-Brash, executive director, The United Methodist Stewardship Foundation of Greater New Jersey.
“We spent the day reframing our approach to stewardship in the local church. Participants left with a workable action plan to grow in generosity,” said Purkis-Brash.
Betty Quackenboss, Rev. Erica Munoz and a team from Aldersgate UMC in East Brunswick led the last track called “A Closer Walk: A Path to Spiritual Transformation” where participants were encouraged to go deeper in their faith.
Using the small group model, the interactive workshop explored ways to infuse prayer, scripture exposure and faith-inspired stories into existing church activities.
Laity who attended the event were encouraged to complete an action plan and apply for grant money to complete their plan. Seed grants up to $500 are available for congregations to begin a new ministry that demonstrates readiness to grow vital congregations and develop lay leadership.