Free Church Teacher and Leader Training at CLI
Hello! My name is Leslie Thomas from Sacramento, California, where I have lived all my life. I serve in leadership at Abundant Life Church in South Sacramento. I am 34 years old and married to my husband, Brandon, for 15 years. We have four awesome children ages 13, 10, 6, and 5, who I homeschool. I am excited to study at CLI for free church teacher and leader training.
My Early Church Life
I came to know the Lord at age four, and I have attended Abundant Life my whole life. My knowledge of the Bible and God grew through my education at the Christian School. At age 14, I joined the worship team (at my grandmother’s insistence; she was the pianist). My journey with being a worship leader is thanks to my grandmother. I graduated from Capital Christian School in 2003. I attended one year of college at California State University Sacramento.
At 18, my experience teaching began small with two girls in a Wednesday night elementary Girls Club class. After my church started a bus ministry, the group grew to overflow. It was a significant growth experience teaching un-churched girls who had never heard of Jesus. I began working part-time at my church as the Pastor’s secretary in 2005, one month before I got married. By the next year, 2006, I was pregnant and underwent a harrowing experience in our church. It ended in a church split, including our Pastor leaving and taking many people with him.
I took over as the Youth Leader for the few youths that were left. There was no one else to lead them. I was 19 years old and had no idea what I was doing. We had no Pastor to mentor me (my father was head of the search committee). For the first time, I felt the weight of leadership. I grew so much through that time. Also, I am thankful to God for sending our Pastor and his wife to our church. For the past 13 years, they have mentored me and helped me grow in my relationship with God exponentially!
I remained the Youth Leader for about five years. I have also been the worship leader at my church since 2006. In January of 2014, I began teaching the adult Sunday School class and have fallen in love with teaching. When my Pastor approached me with the idea for me to lead that class, I was terrified! I had only taught kids and youth. Saying, “Yes!” was one of the best decisions I ever made! The teacher learns far more than the students. God has also used my class to get me through some challenging and dark seasons of ministry, marriage, and life.
Servant of Christ
My life is not my own; I am Christ’s servant as a church teacher and leader. I have learned that it is possible to serve in church without spending much time serving God. The Lord has taught me to put others first and help wherever there is a need out of love for Him, not as an obligation. Because of this, I have taken on other roles over time. In addition to teaching the Adult Sunday School Class and leading worship, I also oversee our Connection Committee. It consists of our Usher Ministry and Guest Lunches held after Sunday Morning Services.
Furthermore, I chair a Pastoral Care Committee, which consists of four other dedicated church members who serve alongside me to care for our Pastor and his family. We meet monthly and talk about how to help, support, and care for them. I consider it one of the most important roles that I hold. I still work part-time at the church as the Secretary and handle all the weekly church office responsibilities. Also, I am the Secretary of the Church Board.
Two years ago, I felt God laying on my heart to volunteer my name for Vice President of the Church Board. The Board elected me, and I still serve in that capacity. I occasionally preach on Sunday nights on a rotation with the other Board Members to assist our Pastor. He was diagnosed with a rare spinal cord disease in 2012, and the Board has taken over preaching on Sunday nights to help. God has given me a passion for preaching that I have never desired or expected.
My Journey to the Christian Leaders Institute
My journey in church leadership explains why I finally decided to apply to the Christian Leaders Institute. I do not feel a call into pastoral ministry, but I do want to be the best church teacher and leader I can be. My spiritual dream is to know God better, to further God’s Kingdom in my life, my family, my church, and the world, to bring others closer to God and to teach others what God has revealed to me.
I have always considered myself to be a student and a learner. I love serving and loving the people that God has given to me. Now, it is time to further my education and have more resources to lead to the best of my ability. My husband and I don’t make a lot of money, and what we do have is quickly spent on our household and children. I have been urged to further my education and had a desire to go back to school for some time. However, I have not had the financial ability. I’m thankful for finding CLI and look forward to this opportunity.
My ministry roles, homeschooling my children, other family responsibilities have been my excuse not to apply. However, I feel God urging me to take this next step. I trust Him to help me find time to fit it all into my life. I’m grateful for what God has done through my life and give Him all the glory!
I’m looking forward to the next chapter.