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Most of us go through each day being called so many times that we become deaf to "The Call." This call is God's call to us. It is the summons of God to respond to the call to serve, to minister, to celebrate, to sacrifice, to answer. God's call is not a one-time event. It is often not a single summons, although it can be that. No, God's call is a repeated command, one that resounds through every moment of our lives. God has made us to be in fellowship and to service to and with God. God never ceases to summon us to fulfill the ministry to which we are called.

Perhaps most significantly, God calls us by our own given name. God knows each of us as intimately as spouses, parents, children, and friends. In Isaiah 43:1 God says to each of us, "I have called you by name, you are mine."

Discerning God's call is not always an easy task, especially among the distractions of other daily calls. Maybe it is more accurate to say that each person becomes aware of God's call in the existing situation and setting. It is not that God has failed to call; rather, the call had finally become obvious, clear, and compelling.

Put most simply, God is calling each of us to be witnesses who proclaim the presence and power of God through all that we are and all that we do. God is calling each of us to tell others about God's love and forgiveness. God is calling us to be his spokesperson on earth. The message may be simple, but the ways we proclaim the message are as varied as the people who hear the call. People hear the call and live it out in many ways including as a lay speaker. That call, like the call to any other ministry, must be followed by preparation, practice and evaluation.

First, each of us responds to God's call out of a sense of humility. God's calls to people are not in any order of importance. The call to lay speaking sets you apart as a lay speaker, but it does not set a status, rank, or privilege that is not shared by every other Christian who responds to God's call, whatever the call may be. Self-importance, self-righteousness, or status have no place today as Christians respond to the call of God to proclaim God's will in the world.

Becoming a lay minister requires going down a path filled with many steps. Upon deciding to pursue the call, the person should start researching the commitment he or she is about to make. They should also begin to investigate exactly what has gotten them to this point in their lives and what part the past has played in it.

Writing is a wonderful way to keep track of thoughts and feelings that may be confusing as the journey begins. First, describing in detail the sense of God's call and the times it was experienced is a good start. Second, looking up characters in the Bible who also felt God's call and comparing the similarities and differences helps to familiarize the person with how God reaches out to many people of all types and backgrounds. Third, recalling people in their lives who have had the most impact on the person's faith as a Christian builds a good foundation of knowledge. Finally, speaking with a minister or Christian educator who has chosen full-time Christian service as a profession will help the person decide whether the lay ministry path is the right one for them.

Finding a beginner lay speaker course in your area (ask your pastor) and attending it is the next step. The material that is provided there should finalize the decision on whether to continue with this calling or not. Assuming the person does, he or she should take advantage of the instruction given each week.

The course requires commitment to faithful attendance and full participation. Absentees and dropouts will negatively affect all group members. Class time is frequently based on the prepared assignments, so be sure to complete each assignment before attending the next session. The course is designed for discussion, conversation, sharing, practicing and experiencing; writing and speaking skills are emphasized as well as Bible knowledge and understanding. Upon graduation of this class, the person will be a qualified local lay speaker with permission from the laity board to preach in their home church and also in pre-arranged visits to hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, etc. Taking advantage of these opportunities will strengthen their skills as a leader.

As a lay minister, a person is often called to proclaim the gospel in many different ways. Worship leadership, preaching and witnessing are just a few of the ways. Most often the speaker is called to proclaim the gospel through teaching. The ministry of teaching is a sacred ministry. Some would argue that Jesus spent much more time teaching than he did preaching. The earliest church listed teachers among its most responsible positions and Jesus' final word to his disciples was to go into all the world teaching.

The answer to the question of when and where a lay minister teaches is anytime and anywhere. Sunday school classes, from pre-school to adult, provide a great starting point. Youth groups, Bible studies and mid-week classes also provide rich opportunities to teach and learn in the midst of committed Christians. By teaching diversified groups, the speaker will become more effective in helping people grow in their faith and discipleship.