Formation is an ongoing life-long process, since we are continually formed and re-formed by the communities and other influences that surround us. Self-aware reflective Christian formation is a process of conscious discernment of all those influences, and a conscious decision to engage* (see below) the influences which shape us more fully into the form of Christ, and to reject those influences which take us further from Christ’s image.
Candidates for the specified ministry of Lay Preacher are required to participate in a ‘formation’ day in order to attain the VicTas Synod’s Certificate of Lay Preacher Studies, part of the training requirements for accreditation as a Lay Preacher by the candidate’s presbytery.
Sessions include the Basis of Union, the Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice for Lay Preachers, supervision, continuing education and support structures for the lay ministries of the Uniting Church.
Lay Preachers are not suddenly ‘formed’ by engaging with these foundational Uniting Church perspectives for a single day, but the formative influence of these foundations is important to reflect upon on this day, and throughout the ministry to be exercised by Lay Preachers and other lay leaders within the Church.
Preparation through pre-reading, thinking and writing (‘homework’) is expected of participants in order to make the most of the ‘formation weekend’. Formal assessment of your ‘homework’ responses is not required, but you will be expected to participate in small-group and whole-group discussions on the day.
Reading and reflection – please ensure you complete the readings before the day:
Read the “Basis of Union” (1992 edition), and answer the following questions:
Read the “Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice for Lay Preachers“, and answer the following questions:
Further readings with suggested questions for reflection follow below. These are not required reading before the formation weekend, but each adds to the information and perspectives expected of lay leaders. Please attempt as much of this as you’re able when you have time, and if you have questions you know who to ask…
Please read each relevant document below, then answer the questions following by making notes for your own learning, in your own terms rather than the language of the Uniting Church document. Include references or paragraph numbers where relevant, so you can later identify where you found an issue, topic, or requirement. Assessment of your responses is not required. Don’t stress if you can’t get it all done, but the more you read, engage* (see below) and reflect the more you’ll learn.
Read the “Docbyte on Worship”, “A very short Guide to the Service of the Lord’s Day” and “Ordered Liberty in Worship” (in the latter, there is no need to read the notes on individual services such as the marriage service, but do read ‘A Final Reminder…’), and answer the following questions:
Read “Important Resources for Leaders in the UCA” and answer the following questions:
Read “Pastoral (Professional) Supervision” and answer the following questions:
Read “Lay Preacher Continuing Education” and answer the following questions:
Read the Crosslight article “Permission to say ‘No’” and the linked article “Guidelines on personal boundaries in worship“.
Additional reading on the Basis of Union of the Uniting Church in Australia:
Leadership within the Uniting Church is not about ‘learning by rote’ or simply repeating the patterns of former times or traditions. Engagement is an active process in which you consider the ideas presented (whether written, spoken, or presented in another way) and reflect on the ways in which those ideas resonate with your own context and experience, and the ways they do not.
Outright rejection of ideas is not engagement, and neither is simply repeating what you have been told. Engagement is about dialogue or discussion, considering other viewpoints and putting forward your own, listening to the experience of others and telling your own story. Engagement is about respect, both for the other and for yourself, and ultimately about respect for the image of God that is present in each person. Throughout the Bible we find people who engage with God, and with Jesus Christ, not simply by following a set of commandments, but by ‘wrestling’ with God, asking questions and challenging assumptions as well as listening and following.
In your engagement with the many aspects of leadership within the Uniting Church, you are invited to read, reflect and take note of the issues, priorities, questions or concerns that arise for you. You will find some answers in foundational documents of the Uniting Church, such as the Basis of Union. Other issues will require dialogue and discernment with some of the various councils of the Church. This is how leaders within the Uniting Church seek to respond to the challenges and opportunities of each time, and each place, remembering that God is always with us, and always calling us to witness to the good news of God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ.
Together, we better discern the will of God, and together we better witness to God’s love for all creation.