The Lay Servant Ministries are covered by Paragraphs 266-269 of the UMC Book of Discipline and fall under the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD).
Lay Servants receive specialized training and provide support for clergy as well as serving in their local church or beyond.
Essentially, there are three categories of individuals within the Lay Servant Ministries:
- Certified Lay Servant,
- Certified Lay Speaker, or
- Certified Lay Minister.
The current Book of Discipline eliminated the previous category of Local Church Lay Servant.
CERTIFIED LAY SERVANT
A Certified Lay Servant (Paragraph 266) is a professing member of a local church or recognized UMC ministry, who desires to serve the church and is committed to scripture and the UMC, and has received specialized training to be a more effective disciple. Among the activities commonly performed by Certified Lay Servants are providing leadership and support to church programs and ministries, preaching or assisting in worship services, leading small groups or missional groups, and leading or assisting in programs in the local church or beyond. Certified Lay Servants participate in many diverse areas!
To become a Certified Lay Servant, you must obtain the recommendation of your pastor or church council or charge conference, and complete the Basic Course and an Advanced Course. A Certified Lay Servant submits an annual report and is renewed as an Advanced Lay Servant with the approval of the pastor, District Superintendent, District Director of Lay Servant Ministries, and the charge conference or church council. To maintain certification, the Certified Lay Servant must apply annually and complete an Advanced Course every three (3) years.
BASIC AND ADVANCED COURSES
The Basic Course is the course approved by GBOD. Advanced Courses are offered by the various districts, and are courses approved by GBOD or the Conference Committee of Lay Servant Ministries, which consists of the Conference Director and the eight (8) District Directors. On a one-time basis only, participation in Mission U, taking three (3) Seminary Lite courses (Seminary Lite courses are no longer available), and the EQUIP Course are counted as Advanced Courses. Advanced Course credit is also allowed for teaching a Lay Servant Course with District approval. Courses may be taken in any district, and not just the district where the Certified Lay Servant’s local church is located. A Certified Lay Servant may transfer to another District or Conference and with a letter confirming his or her qualification from the previous District Committee, maintain standing as a Certified Lay Servant.
You are not required to be a Certified Lay Servant to take a Basic or Certified Lay Servant Course. Anybody with a desire to receive training in an area of interest to them may take the course and receive a Certificate of Completion. Additionally, it is not necessary to take the Basic Course before taking an Advanced Course; Certified Lay Servants simply need to have completed both courses. Should a Certified Lay Servant lose his or her standing by failing to take an Advanced Course within a three (3) year period, that individual may regain standing as a Certified Lay Servant by taking an Advanced Course and repeating the application process to renew as a Certified Lay Servant. The Book of Discipline does not mandate repeating the Basic Course.
CERTIFIED LAY SPEAKER
A Certified Lay Speaker (Paragraph 267) is a Certified Lay Servant who feels a call to preach and provide regular pulpit supply. A Certified Lay Speaker may preach outside his local church at the direction of the District Superintendent or District Committee.
To become a Certified Lay Speaker, you must complete the Basic Course and Advanced Courses in:
- Leading Worship,
- Leading Prayer,
- Discovering Spiritual Gifts,
- UMC Heritage, and
- UMC Polity.
A prospective Certified Lay Speaker is then interviewed by the District Committee on Lay Servant Ministries and granted approval by the Conference Committee. Like the Certified Lay Servant, a Certified Lay Speaker must submit an annual report and be approved by his or her Pastor, District Superintendent, District Committee, and charge conference or church council.
To maintain certification, a Certified Lay Speaker must take a Lay Servant Advanced Course every three (3) years and is interviewed for renewal every three (3) years by the District Committee and approved by the Conference Committee.
A Certified Lay Speaker may transfer to another District or Conference, and with a letter confirming his or her qualifications from the prior District Committee, maintain his or her standing as a Certified Lay Speaker.
CERTIFIED LAY MINISTER
A Certified Lay Minister (Paragraph 268) is a Certified Lay Servant or Lay Missioner who is called to conduct worship, provide congregational care, preach and provide program leadership as part of a ministry team under the supervision and support of a clergyperson. A Certified Lay Minister is assigned by the District Superintendent.
To become a Certified Lay Minister, a person must be a Certified Lay Servant or Lay Missioner and obtain a written recommendation from his or her pastor and church council. The candidate must complete a course of study developed by GBOD, receive a letter of recommendation from the District Superintendent, be screened and interviewed by the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, and approved by the Conference Board of Lay Servant Ministries.
To maintain standing as a Certified Lay Minister, the person must submit an annual report to the charge conference or church council where his or her membership is held, obtain an interview with the pastor-parish relations committee of the church where he or she is a member or under assignment, complete a Certified Lay Servant Course every two (2) years, and receive a recommendation for recertification from the District Superintendent. After reviewing the requirements by the Conference Committee of Lay Servant Ministries, a Certified Lay Minister is again interviewed by the Conference Board on Ordained Clergy and recommended for recertification to the Conference Board of Lay Servant Ministries. With a letter from the Conference Board of Lay Servant Ministries, a Certified Lay Minister may transfer to another District or Conference and maintain his or her standing.
Look interesting? Contact your local church pastor, lay leader, or District Director of Lay Servant Ministries today!