Many who view Southern Hills from the outside may get the wrong idea when seeing the great crowds, multiple services and many salvation decisions that are being made here. They may only see Josh & Heather and the staff they have assembled. But those who are in our ministry know that our kingdom success is attributed to the hand of God and the Lay-Leadership team He has assembled.
I. Small Group Leaders
As the church has grown much of our pastoral care has become reliant upon a handful of gifted and willing servants we call small group leaders. These men and women each lead a sermon-based small group throughout the week. These groups of 10-20 adults delve into the topic and text from the previous sunday’s sermon in order to bring to light theological truths and practical realities that need to be discussed. Each group has at least one leader who facilitates the conversation as they work through a pre-printed curriculum produced by the church. These leaders are on the front lines of pastoral care and counseling. When the church reached the level of 150 people I quickly came to the realization that Heather and I could not sufficiently be there to answer every theological question and pray with every troubled heart. When I think of our Small Group Leaders I think of men and women who spend their evenings on the phone with group members loving them, and counseling them according to the Scriptures. Ryan & Nia Labrador, Ira & Alicia Bowman, Trevor & Alisa Summers, Leon & Sandy Stevens and Jarrod Patton are a few of these willing to dedicate their ministries to this important venture. It is through our small groups that our church has remained small though it has grown.
Heather and I desire to be at the bedside of every sick church member and bringing a meal to every postpartum family. As a pastor I have been to more hospital rooms and prayed in more waiting rooms than I care to count. Over the years I have learned that I am not always able to get there in time for every procedure or new birth. However, I have noticed that the Holy Spirit has specifically gifted some of our members in the area of pastoral care. Our lay-shepherds have been asked to assist the pastor in his shepherding duties. As I remain focused on leading and feeding the flock folks like Ken & Linda Savage, Marie Timms and Ken & Jeanette Dejesus have stepped forward to help care for the sheep. When a member is in need at Southern Hills our staff knows to immediately inform me so that I can be in prayer and secondly, dispatch a lay-shepherd to help where they are able.
I too wish I could teach every class at SHBC, alas, it is impossible. Heather and I first served in the position of Children’s Pastor when we graduated from ministerial college and still love to teach children when given the opportunity. In fact, when the SHBC first started, we had a single service at a sunday school hour in which one of our deacons would teach the few adults and I would teach the children ages 6-11. Now we have hundreds of Children who come to Southern Hills every week and dozens of classes to be taught. Peter & Leah Schutzman, Glen & Cindy Hammons, Don & Jaclyn Palmer, Linette Winsler and many more willingly study throughout the week to prepare age-appropriate Bible lessons for children who need not another babysitter but an actual Bible teacher. In Awana on Wednesday Nights Jeremy & Tasha Burgess, Tom & Emily Tetting, Dawn Froehlich, Kenny & Kristin Eickelberg and 17 others teach our children the importance of Bible Memory and Biblical principles.
Truly without this vast team of Lay-Leadership the ministries of Southern Hills would never amount to anything for the Kingdom of Christ. It is the love and labor of those mentioned and not mentioned above that allow our church to grow and thrive as it does.
What Lay-Leadership ministries do you have in your church? Could you imagine a church that only had one minister? Why do you think the position of Lay-Leadership is essential in the modern church? (next post I will be dealing with – Part 4 – Support Staff)