Leadership is equipping several laypersons in a church with an average weekly attendance of more than 2,200. Two laity in the Hamburg, New York, church are leading by example, deeply engaged in the church's mission of transforming the Buffalo area.
Bob Gibson, an entrepreneurial father of three grown children, placed his faith in Christ as an adult. It was during a leader retreat that Gibson encountered what he calls his “second repentance”—the realization he wanted a deeper walk with Jesus.
Gibson is heavily involved in discipleship ministries and community groups at WCH and also serves with a work-readiness program with 716 Ministries, a ministry in Buffalo to asylum seekers, refugees and inner-city residents. He also leads a WCH community group of four young men who were recently baptized and are excited to grow together in their faith.
Gibson also assisted in writing a disciple-making program that is woven throughout WCH and has helped train more than 130 people in the training titled “I’m a Disciplemaker.”
You have to jump in and serve instead of waiting until you feel ready.
Everyone, no matter what age, can disciple another. “We want everyone to become a disciple of Christ and nurture others in the process too,” said Gibson. He encourages other laypersons to begin serving in the church, even if they don’t yet know what it looks like.
“You have to jump in and serve instead of waiting until you feel ready,” said Gibson. “God will provide what you need to serve and lead where he wants you. Someone needs to intersect with your life. Don’t wait to serve until you think you’re ready because none of the disciples were.”
“Bob has been launching ministries, because he knows he is fully supported by leadership,” said Rev. Ken Nash, WCH lead pastor.
Scott Shafer is another layperson at WCH who has stepped into leadership. A mechanical engineer who works full time and attends seminary simultaneously, Shafer is a lay pastor at WCH. He helped lead worship for many years at the campus he now serves, and when Nash began as lead pastor, they had a conversation about Shafer’s desire to teach.
Shafer said Nash giving him the opportunity to be part of the teaching team of pastors was “a race marker (referenced in Hebrews 12), the next step God had for me.” When Shafer took a step of faith to start seminary, he just wanted “to be a better Sunday school teacher.” But God continues to direct his steps in an unexpected way. He sees full-time ministry as a possibility in his future. He realized he “could have a positive impact in people’s lives” and help others understand Scripture more deeply. He wants to continue walking in that direction to see where God leads.
“Scott is a major leader in our church as one of our campus pastors,” said Nash. “He’s volunteering his time.”
Gibson and Shafer aren’t the only laypersons giving their best in service at WCH.
The lifeblood of a movement is laity.
“Our church laypeople have stepped up to serve,” said Nash. “They are leading ministries that ‘are in their hands.’ Watching them come alive in their callings is what we call a ‘holy disturbance’—their passion of what God is calling them to.”
Nash said WCH will not launch a ministry that doesn’t have an “organic, natural leader who God has raised up.” WCH leadership champions creativity and energy in its laypeople as they lead and freely lets them do so.
“The lifeblood of a movement is laity,” said Nash. “We believe that to our core.”