Over a decade ago, I visited an exciting church in the inner city of Chicago. While most Sunday sermons in that neighborhood echoed through half-empty auditoriums, the sermons of this church's pastor reached overflow crowds Sunday after Sunday. Obviously, it was an unusual church. People weren't just dropping their money in the plate and then putting their feet up while the pastor did all the work. They believed they were called to minister and by God's power could minister.

I had a chance to talk at length with the pastor. "What's the secret of your success here?"

"Simple," he said. "I just tell people who they are: chosen by God, his children, his priests. I don't shame them for what they are not; I tell them who they are."

At that moment, I promised myself, If ever I return to the pastorate, I'm going to remember that. I did return, and I kept that promise. I've been telling people who they are, and it works. Let me use my experience with University Presbyterian Church's (UPC) lay ministry ...

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