Who is Lay Renewal?

Lay Renewal Ministries, or LRM, began in 1954 through God working through the vision of Bob Fenn.

Today, LRM serves churches across the country through a variety of events designed to serve the local church as it renews, motivates and equips men and women for ministry through the Power of the Holy Spirit. We are interdenominational and seek to partner with churches seeking to stir a passion for ministry and equip disciples for Christ. We have strong roots in Presbyterian, United Methodist and Covenant denominations, but we truly serve any church that agrees with LRM’s statement of beliefs.

For more information, visit www.layrenewal.com.

The person who does the blog entries is Marty Guise. Marty is the current Executive Director of LRM. He joined the ministry in 1996. For some videos, please visit You Tube. As part of our 50th anniversary project, videos were posted. Since all were recorded in 2004, some comments may be a bit dated. Click on the names below for a quick link.

Bob Fenn / Marty Guise / Joe Schluchter

A longer version of LRM’s history:

Lay Renewal Ministries, or LRM, began in 1954 when a group of lay men decided to hold a conference to discuss the following topics and their relation to them as Biblical Christians: Prayer; the Holy Spirit; the Authority of Scripture; Evangelism; and the Church. Over 1,000 men and women attended this first conference. The success of the conference was attributed to simple stories of God’s working in the lives of ordinary people.


The impact on their lives began to spread around the country as other believers asked them to come and share the difference Jesus Christ made in their lives. Under the leadership of Bob Fenn, these men and women would travel the country to share the Truth of a relationship with Jesus Christ.


As time moved on, despite the fact that LRM served churches of all denominations, the ministry formally served as a division of Covenant Fellowship of Presbyterians. When the Northern and Southern Presbyterian Churches united in 1984, the Chapter IX status required all Board members to be members of the PCUSA. Therefore, LRM split off in order to insure ministry to all denominations. It became an independent ministry as a Missouri Corporation under 501(c)3 status. Staff at this time included Bob Fenn, Ruth Boothe, Mike Glodo and Joe Schluchter.


In 1985, LRM acquired the programs and services of the Institute of Church Renewal, formerly headed by Dr. Ben Johnson. Renewal events were called Lay Witness Missions; Spiritual Discovery Weekends; Abundant Life Weekends; Church Alive Weekends; and, simply, Lay Renewal Weekends. In this year, Wayne Gosnell became the first area (regional) director, operating out of Montgomery, AL.


In 1986, LRM publishes its first book, Presbyterian Officer Handbook, compiled from Dr. Andy Jumper’s earlier books for elders and deacons. Family Life conferences began – the first featuring Dr. Gene Getz. In this year, Tom and Ruth Donner joined the LRM staff. The following year, Linda Vonder Bruegge also joined the staff and Roger Haining and Ruff Robinson became area directors.


In 1988, Ted and Beth Beattie joined LRM as co-directors of Marriage and Family Renewal. Bill Johnson replaced Roger Haining as Western Regional Director and Larry Leonard joined the team as the New England Regional Director.


LRM moved into its present location at 3101 Bartold Avenue in St. Louis, MO. The Resource Division began operating after extensive renovations to facilities. Bob Gillam joined the staff as Director of Consulting and Doris Haslam became the Administrative Assistant.


In 1989, relationships with authors began to expand. Perhaps most notably, Patrick Morely of Man in the Mirror Ministries became a friend of the ministry. A video rental ministry initiated by a gift from Ed Gomes began as a service to churches and individuals. A Lay Renewal in Frankfort, Germany saw the Berlin Wall fall.


Many new additions came in 1991. After joining with Chapel of the Air (David and Karen Mains) the previous year, Bill Wichman and many others joined the staff. Lee White, Bob Coulter and Norris Miller became area directors. Lay Witness Missions were held in France. LRM began a relationship with the Evangelical Covenant Church and started Covenant Faith Missions.


Although he continued to serve on the ministry’s staff, Bob Fenn stepped down as Executive Director in 1993 after almost 40 years of leading the ministry. Joe Schluchter became the Ministry’s new Executive Director. A Young Adult Division was formed. The following year, relationships with authors Bob Briner (Roaring Lambs), Parker Hudson (On the Edge) and Frank Peretti (This Present Darkness / Piercing the Darkness) flourished.


Leadership training events and consultations became a greater part of the ministry’s service to the Church. Weekend events focused on engaging, encouraging and equipping leaders to effective service to God’s glory through the church.


In 1996, Marty Guise joined the ministry as the Resource Director. The Resource Division began to see tremendous growth and blessing over the next several years.


In 1998, the Board of LRM launched a search for a new Executive Director as Joe Schluchter announced his intent to step down. The Young Adult division was spun off as the National Leadership Foundation under the direction of David Lovell.


Over the next few years, LRM saw some transition in the position of Executive Director as the ministry sought to serve the Church in a rapidly changing time. However, in spite of the transitional period, several strong things occurred.


On August 25, 2000, the first LRM Encounter was heard over the KSIV airwaves (Bott Radio Network). The host was Marty Guise and the first guest was Jim Weidmann, then Vice-Chair of the National Day of Prayer with Shirley Dobson. 


The Resource Center continued to expand and hosted events with several national authors. Vacation Bible School and Sunday school curriculum became key components of the division. Relationships with many churches flourished including North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA (Andy Stanley).

The Spiritual Growth and Community Impact Survey was created. This short (36 yes or no questions) became an important part of the consulting division and was eventually included with all Celebration events.


In January of 2003, the Board called Marty Guise to serve as the Executive Director. Jennifer Powell,who had joined the ministry in 2000, is now the Resource Director.


Over the next few years, changes occurred as the various renewal events were brought under the umbrella of “Celebrations.” While many churches still refer to these events as “missions,” the core structure is still the same. The Celebrations offer various themes including, Faith; Prayer; The Word; Abundant Life (spiritual gifts); and Purpose.


In January of 2008, the Spiritual Growth and Community Impact Survey became a major thrust of LRM. Created six years prior, this tool became a key to assisting individual churches understand key areas of spirituality and outreach as they began the Process of Renewal.

It is our prayer that all churches seeking spiritual growth and focused outreach will move through the Process of Renewal which includes leadership development, congregational renewal, God-focused planning and equipping.


3 thoughts on “Who is Lay Renewal?

  1. Hi, Bob,
    I served on two lay renewals with Burt and Dottie Ducheck in Florida and they were both highlights in my life. We, Trinity P.C. in Clearwater, also had a wonderful retreat, I believe in the 80s, which helped to bring energy and fulfillment to the church. I now live in TX and belong to a church next door to me, First P.C., which needs some help. Can you send us materials to help us get on board with the planning of a retreat? I’ve been praying for this for over two years, so you can see that if it is God’s will to do this, Lay Renewal, Inc. is the angel we need to talk with. Bless you and your teams for the truly spiritual work that you do. Thank you.
    Retta McSweeney.

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