By Chris Bowman, pastor of the Oakton Church of the Brethren (Vienna, Va.).
One of the best things about the Vital Ministry Journey is that it is not about the minister—it’s about the church and our journey together as this “fellowship of Jesus-followers.”
This kind of gathering is not new. Reading the Oakton Church minutes for 1903—1913 we see this kind of vital ministry journey was part of every church council meeting (though by a different name). Every three months the whole church would gather, share, and identify the needs in their community. Then someone would “admonish the Brethren,” which meant “to encourage” or “urge forward.”
In the same way, this year we met together to hone and sharpen individual gifts even as we knit them closer together through the ministries of the body of Christ. This is what a vital congregation is—continually connecting people to their ministry purpose.
For too long church leadership has said, “We professionals can do it; you can help.” The emerging church is different. Instead we should be saying, “If your minister is the one doing your Vital Ministry Journey, you’re doing it wrong.” Thus, at Oakton Church, VMJ is laity led. This is the best way we have found to inspire a meaningful experience.
Ministry is the calling of every Jesus-follower. Our baptism is our ordination. Our personal giftedness shared in community is our training. Wherever God sends us is our “mission field” as God calls us to do our part in the unfolding Kingdom of Heaven. To stay alive, empowered, vital, and connected to God, we gather to read scripture, share our insights, and pray.