Looking for Leaders
Praise God for Laymen
by Allen Hall
After combining the definitions in Webster’s dictionary, a layman is essentially “a person who serves in the church but is not a pastor or minister.” Because I answered God’s call at age 16, ministry is all I have ever known. At times I have worked a secular job, but even then, I served in a ministerial capacity. So, honestly, I have never been a layman, but I have known some great ones.
My first pastorate was a small, but growing, country church. From time to time, I recall how loving and forgiving those folks were toward their young preacher. When I go back and read some of the sermons preached during those years, I am thankful for their amazing patience and understanding. One of those dear people was a layman named Dallas. On a number of occasions, after the service, he would quietly ask, “Preacher, that was a good message, but did you mean to say . . .?” He never did this in an arrogant or hurtful manner, but in a constructive and helpful way. He was my friend, and I knew it.
I think of another layman named Doug with whom I worked in youth ministry. Doug always reminded me of Mr. Whitaker from the Adventures in Odyssey stories for children. Not only did he favor the character “Whit,” but he also possessed the same likeable and caring qualities. Whether teaching a Bible lesson or telling one of the stories he had written, Doug made the characters come alive. It was amazing to see children hang on his every word. He was the one the children trusted. He was their leader.
When the church hired me to be the youth pastor, I was concerned how Doug would view my role. I will never forget the conversation we had not long after my arrival. As he showed me materials he had used in the past, he simply said, “I want you to know that I am in full support of your being here. I don’t want to be a hindrance. I want to be a help in any way I can.”
I appreciated his humility and willingness to take on a supportive role to a younger, less experienced youth leader. I have never worked with anyone more talented or enjoyable than Doug.
I think of those who always had a kind and encouraging word for me, those who say, “Pastor, I’ll help out in any way I can.” I am grateful to those who get to church before anyone else to unlock the doors and make sure the temperature is just right. I don’t know what we would do without those who usher and count the offering, regulate the sound for each service, and stand guard during the services to keep everyone safe. I think of teachers, the volunteers who work with children, those who faithfully visit the sick, and those who bring others to church week after week. This list could go on and on, describing these countless “behind the scenes” servants.
I have had the privilege of knowing many great laymen in churches where I ministered over the years. I have heard of many more from other pastors who sang their praises and expressed their thanks for them. I am sure you could recount many faithful laymen you have known.
Many times, faithful workers do not get the accolades, credit, and appreciation they deserve. Often, they work quietly behind the scenes, and others are not even aware of the many things they do to help the church go forward. Although their faces may not be at the forefront, their fingerprints are everywhere. They are the cheerleaders, the encouragers, the “go-to guys,” the handymen, the prayer warriors, the faithful ones, those who have the pastor’s back, and the friends there to help in time of need.
Praise the Lord for laymen and women! Praise Him for those who believe and practice 1 Corinthians 3:9: “For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.”
About the Writer: Allen and Jenny Hall (and their children Allison and Joshua) moved to York, Pennsylvania, in October 2006, to plant Good News Free Will Baptist Church. Learn more at www.goodnewsfwbchurch.org.