The vision for Agora’s ministry was born in many conversations with leaders of immigrant and ethnic-specific congregations. We asked the pastors and ministry leaders of these congregations how we could help them do what God was calling them to do, and many of them responded that they needed more leaders. Since many of their members were new Christians, they did not have enough leaders to teach Sunday School, lead bible studies, or even preach when the pastor was away. Agora’s ministry was shaped to respond to this need, helping to prepare lay leaders who will work in partnership with their pastors and ministry leaders to preach, teach, and reach out to newcomers.
It also became clear that other programs were better suited to provide the training required to become a pastor or a synodically authorized minister (SAM), lay leaders who are appointed by their bishop to provide regular ministry leadership for a specified period of time. Individuals interested in pursuing those options should contact their local synod office for more information.
We are also aware that many traditional congregations are located in rapidly changing contexts and their communities are now home to newcomers from a wide variety of backgrounds. Agora is developing resources to aid these congregations, including workshops to present various models of community engagement as well as offering Agora graduates as cultural ambassadors who can help build bridges with new neighbors.
Agora has prepared a resource, “Getting to Know our Neighbors.” Feel free to use this resource and contact us if we can be of further assistance and guide you through a process of exploration and discovery.