Dear pastors,

Members of your congregation are not just going to swim into your office asking to lead discipleship ministries. You must set out bait.

(Well, they might swim into your office. They might be there frequently, actually. It’s just that neither of you realize why yet.)

I will confess the bait I took: Study groups about the “emerging church” and other provocative topics. Movie nights, with discussion afterward. “Beer and Theology” nights at the local pub! (Go on. Try it. It’s awesome.) Facebook and Twitter conversations. Conversations over coffee, with no particular agenda. Seeing my pastor’s life, and becoming curious about his choices. And most especially, a book group – not to work through a Christian curriculum, but to read secular fiction and explore it through the eyes of faith. It worked at my imagination. It infected me.

My pastor set out a trail of breadcrumbs…and I not only followed it, but was fed along the way.

And all the time, while my soul was waking, my pastor was watching. And listening. And giving me time. He gave me my time – time to grow, time to become dissatisfied, hungry and thirsty for more; he also gave generously of his time, meeting me for coffee, for lunch, engaging in countless email dialogues on whatever I was struggling with or thinking through or celebrating. He responded always from a place of deep faith. Some of these times, I came away rejoicing. Sometimes I came away confused. Sometimes I wept. Sometimes I raged. A few times, I walked away from it all for a while.

But each time, the Spirit drew me back.

Pastors, please know: This is not something you need to make happen. That is the Spirit’s work. Your work is to trust that Spirit, and to watch for it. Watch for bright eyes. Watch for glistening unexpected tears. Watch for the person who responds. And then – reach out. Invite that person to more – to explore – to go deeper.

You are my pastor. I am your lay person. Maybe you know already who I am. Maybe not. I may not know who I am, yet. But I thank you, in advance, for watching for me, for finding me, for taking the time, for the inefficiency it will involve, for your patience.

Don’t be afraid. Reach out. Ask. Invite. Give responsibility for something large, something serious. Tell that one what is needed. Tell them it is large. Tell them it is important. Tell them you believe they can do it. They will need to hear this from you. (They may need to hear it many times.) Your lay person will not know what they can do, until you ask them to do it. It may be exciting. It may be terrifying. It will probably be both.

Jesus fed and taught the crowds – but when he called disciples, he warned them to count the cost.

This is no small thing: following Jesus.

But remember: When you are setting out this bait, these breadcrumbs,
it is not to lead your layperson into a trap. It is to lead them out the door,
into the free air.