Israel Galindo has an interesting post on “Releasing the Laity,” which is worth a look. I’ve been a member for several years of a Toastmasters Club, Columbia Center Toastmasters in Portland, OR. Yes, the Toastmasters where you practice speaking. Why would someone who’s been preaching & speaking for 25 years want to be in Toastmasters? I use it to practice for upcoming presentations, to get some feedback on my speaking, and to give back by supporting beginning speakers.
The church could learn a lot from Toastmasters. In a Toastmasters Club, you are given a role almost immediately. You may be called on to give a one-minute impromptu speech. You may time other people’s speeches. You can visit and do nothing for a meeting or two, but after that you are expected to jump right in. You get gentle and supportive feedback on how you did and how you might improve. But Toastmasters Clubs have no pew sitters. (Our club meets in the chapel of Rose City Park United Methodist Church, so we actually do have pews.) You are given a challenge to grow almost immediately.
How might churches structure their ministry so people are given small ways to grow right away, with some careful and caring feedback? What would your congregation do differently if you began to approach ministry in this way?