Transforming Congregations by Igniting the Spiritual Lives, Gifts
and Ministries of the Laity

Ron Farr Send E-mail to Ron Farr, Laity Empowerment Project
Telephone: (315) 583-5821

Unwrapping Our Gifts

Unleashing Our Weekday Ministries
Hearing God's Call
Newcomers Class
Small Group Program


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(4 week short course)

Sample Session | Getting Started


This zippy, Sunday morning class of four 60 minute sessions, when offered periodically throughout the year, gives a church a powerful strategy for quickly engaging newcomers after their initial welcome.

In the Newcomer's Class, newcomers meet and build relationships with other newcomers, do some spiritual sharing, name their gifts, discuss areas of church life and ministry that interest them, and fill out a "Gifts and Ministries Profile," all of which sets the stage for a natural, deeper engagement with the church in the months to come. Lastly, it is not difficult to recruit newcomers to this class since it is designed especially for them, is offered before or after worship when it's easiest to recruit them, and is NOT a New Members Class which carries an intimidating expectation to join the church right away.


The Newcomers Class introduces newcomers to laity empowerment basics - the vision that all Christians are ministers in daily life, an emphasis on each individual's God-given gifts, a spirit of mutuality, personal spiritual sharing, and interactive Bible studies in which everyone's contribution is valued. Many discussion exercises are shortened versions of what is found in the LEP core curricula, UNWRAPPING OUR GIFTS or UNLEASHING OUR WEEKDAY MINISTRIES. After completing the Newcomers Class, newcomers have their appetite whetted for more LEP courses.


The Newcomers Class helps unchurched folks unacquainted with Christian scripture and tradition to reflect on a few basic faith questions such as "Who is Christ?", "What is a Christian?" and "What is Christian community?" through interactive Bible studies, altar displays, and personal sharing. In the final session, newcomers reflect on "7 Building Blocks of Faith" (such as worship, prayer, Bible study, financial giving, etc.).


In the transitions between sharing exercises in each session, leaders make reflective comments about the dreams, priorities, and theology of their local church or denomination that relate to insights that surfaced in the discussion. Leaders are also encouraged to hand out written brochures about their church and its denomination, and then ask for questions. If more time is desired to focus on denominational issues, some sharing exercises of the four sessions can be set aside.


Each class is only 60 minutes long - the time goes fast! Discussion exercises and Bible studies are designed with newcomers in mind who tend to be a little shy. Interesting, quick volleys of different discussion exercises engage newcomers and help them connect with each other and their faith. Brochures and handouts (provided by curriculum, as well as by the local church and denomination) provide newcomers material to read outside of class.


Once the class is completed, the leaders (or trained volunteers) schedule visits with each member of the class in their homes for a "Gifts Interview." The visitor and newcomer review the newcomer's "Gifts and Ministries Profile" (partially discussed in the last class session). This generates further discussion and gift discernment that is individually focused on the newcomer's interests, loves, and gifts. Newcomers generally enjoy and feel affirmed by the "Gifts Interview," and the interviewers notes are helpful guides in engaging the newcomer in relevant church groups, activities and ministries.


The short, user-friendly 82-page "Leader's Manual" has four 60 minute sessions, each laid out in thorough detail, making it easy for clergy or lay teams to be effective and spiritually empowering. The Leader's Manual also contains handouts to be photocopied, articles, and publicity materials.

Unwrapping Our Gifts  |  Unleashing Our Weekday Ministries  |   Hearing God's Call
Newcomers Class  |  Small Group Program
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