On March 9, 2020, the Lutheran Layperson’s Council of Detroit gathered for their monthly meeting. Pastor Richard Robinson began with a devotion in which he said, “The church moves as the Holy Spirit pushes it forward in new ways never seen before.” Little did he know just how far the Holy Spirit would be pushing the church forward in the weeks and months that followed his statement!
In my role working with Detroit churches, I have seen lay people and pastors stepping forward to advance the Kingdom and spread the Gospel despite many challenges. Pastors transitioned from preaching in pulpits to recording their sermons and streaming in living rooms. This is being done at churches across the world; however, our city churches do not have “media coordinators” or “tech crews” on their staff. But God in His grace raised up lay leaders and equipped pastors with dedication and adaptability to ride the technology learning curve. God’s Word is going out in new ways!
“In these uncertain times,” churches have worked hard to creatively support and connect with their community. Here’s a snapshot of how God is blessing Detroit through the lay leaders He has called and equipped at LCMS city churches.
At St. Philip, dedicated lay leaders worked with Pastor Lewis to transform their Saturday youth ministry into an entire month of daily Zoom programming. What a commitment to the next generation! Their purpose was to provide a holistic ministry that incorporated spiritual, emotional, and intellectual development as the youth were experiencing a big shift in their lives due to the virus. This occurred in the month of June. Since then, the lay leadership created weekly zoom forums to teach youth valuable insights on financial literacy and entrepreneurship.
The lay leaders at St. John were incredibly creative when it came to their annual Children’s Christmas Eve Service. Dedicated members worked to include their youth in this service by assigning them portions of the Christmas story to recite. The lay leaders visited homes, decorated the front porches, and filmed the children reciting their lines, all while maintaining social distancing. What an inspired idea! These video clips were combined with musical selections from their Music Director, as well as Christmas hymns of praise sung by various churches, to create an entirely virtual service. The lay leadership partnered with Pastor Robinson to ensure that the true message of Christmas was proclaimed to their community!
Bethany’s lay leadership have also taken a new approach to supporting youth and families in their community. Instead of hosting large events, they have taken it to the streets—handing out treat bags and family devotional materials at houses across the city. Bethany has also secured an exciting partnership with DTE, which allows them to provide critical training and connections for quality employment. Their existing Jobs for Life program will be utilized to provide a strong Christian foundation and soft skills needed in the workforce. The lay leadership and Pastor Bodley are truly working to meet their community’s needs!
These churches were incredibly innovative in their approach to ministry in 2020. However, this is only a snapshot! Churches across the city including East Bethlehem (Pastor James), Peace (Pastor Mikkelson), Mt. Calvary (Pastor Carrier), Outer Drive Faith (Pastor Morales), and Charity (Deacon Thomas) are meeting the needs of their community and sharing the Gospel through food pantries, clothing closets, Zoom Bible studies, prayer calls, and countless other methods. I give thanks to God for the way He has blessed and equipped His church with lay leaders that are Christ-like in their generous serving hearts!
Photo (c) Ben White/Lightstock