Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lay Servant Ministries — a new model

“His purpose [is] to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge 
of God’s Son.”
Ephesians 4:12 CEB

In 2012 the General Conference of The United Methodist Church approved legislation to change the name of Lay Speaking Ministries to Lay Servant Ministries. The new name was chosen to better define the role of those laity who wished to help lead in church beyond speaking alone.

The term “servant” best describes what Jesus told his disciples in John 13 after he himself had performed the duties of the lowliest servant. Just as Jesus called his disciples into service, we are called to live out our lives as servant leaders in the life of the church today.

Lay Servants can choose from different levels of training, all of which will help our churches raise up quality transformational leaders who can help our churches in their mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Persons who are already lay speakers or certified lay speakers are “grand-parented” into the new model. To continue in those roles, they will need to be renewed and recertified by completing the new recertification courses now being developed.

In an effort to make our Lay Servant process simpler yet effective, “Equipping God’s People” will be the basic course requirement for the Susquehanna Conference. This course is designed to help people in local churches grow in leadership of guiding their congregations to greater effectiveness in disciple making.

For information about “Equipping God’s People” courses being offered, contact your district office or go to the Lay Ministry page on the Conference Web site,

Please Note: Although we are offering this “Equipping God’s People” course as the requirements for Lay Servant classes, individuals or churches can benefit from the training experience too.

Churches are encouraged to send teams of people (ideal teams are about ten percent of the average worship attendance) to training sessions. These are fee-based sessions – which will provide books, materials, and teaching for one fee. The groups will generally meet on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon for three hours. Groups may be cluster- or district-based. In addition to helping to prepare leadership for churches, the completed course (24 hours) will fulfill training requirements for Basic and Certified Lay Servant Ministers.

The Lay Servant Journey
The following describe three levels of Lay Servant Ministry. Lay persons are encouraged to grow in their leadership skills by beginning as a Local Church Lay Servant. For those who want to continue to deepen their leadership role, they may next become Certified Lay Servants. For those who desire to fill the pulpit as a Lay Speaker, additional course work is required. Below are the steps and requirements.

Local Church Lay Servant 
The local church lay servant with appropriate training shall serve the local church through which membership is held through ministries of leading, caring, and communicating (“Book of Discipline,” ¶267.2) Requirements:
  • Pastor and charge conference approval
  • Complete Modules 1-4 of “Equipping God’s People” course
  • File annual report to charge conference.
  • Complete a refresher course every three years.

Certified Lay Servant 
The certified lay servant with appropriate training shall continue to serve the local church through ministries of leading, caring, and communicating, and may serve in the role of class leader. In addition, the certified lay servant may serve in the district and conference and in local churches (“Book of Discipline,” ¶268.2) Requirements:
  • Pastor and charge conference approval
  • Complete Modules 1-8 of “Equipping God’s People” course
  • File annual report to charge conference.
  • Complete a refresher Certified Lay Servant course every three years

Lay Speaker 
A lay speaker is a professing member of a local church or charge who is called and equipped to serve the church in pulpit supply in accordance and compliance with the “2012 Book of Discipline,” ¶341.1. A lay speaker will complete a prescribed course of study to include Lay Servant Ministries – the beginning course, and a curriculum on leading worship, leading prayer, discovering spiritual gifts, preaching, and United Methodist heritage and polity. Requirements:
  • Pastor and charge conference approval
  • Complete eight modules of “Equipping God’s People”
  • Complete required courses for Lay Speaker
  • Interview with District Committee on Lay Servant Ministry
  • Approval by Conference Committee on Lay Servant Ministries
  • File annual report
  • Complete a Certified Lay Servant course every three years
  • Interview with District Committee on Lay Servant Ministry

A further step — Certified Lay Ministry

In order to enhance the quality of ministry to small-membership churches, expand team ministry in churches, and in deference to an expression of the gifts and evidence of God’s grace associated with the lay ministry of early Methodism, the Certified Lay Minister is to be recognized and shall preach the Word, provide a care ministry to the congregation, assist in program leadership, and be a witness in the community for the growth, missional, and connectional thrust of the United Methodist Church, as a part of a ministry team with the supervision and support of a clergy person.

The CLM may help lead the congregation in various ways. Each CLM and Staff Parish Relations Committee will create a covenant defining the ways in which the CLM shall serve as well as the responsibilities of the congregation. Each CLM will be assigned to a supervising elder who will assist the CLM and the SPRC as needed. The CLM may serve as part of a staff or may be the only pastoral leader assigned to a small-membership charge.

All persons serving a local church beyond pulpit supply who are not in the process of being licensed or ordained must be enrolled in the Certified Lay Minister Program (requirements are posted at 

Persons must complete the entrance requirements for this program or will not be permitted to serve beyond pulpit supply. This will be monitored by the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. Upon completion of the entrance requirements, a person may serve a church or charge as a candidate for lay ministry. Lay Minister Candidates and Certified Lay Ministers are assigned, not appointed. The CLM remains a lay person and does not have sacramental privileges. The supervising elder works with the CLM to provide the sacraments to the assigned charge.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please follow our Guidelines for Dialogue (see tab at the top of the page) when leaving a comment. All comments are moderated. You can also email a Letter to the Editor to