Lay Servant Ministry Changes

Lay Servant Ministries' Legislation Adopted at 2016 General Conference

There were several proposed legislative petitions addressing paragraphs 266-271 of the Book of Discipline submitted to the 2016 General Conference by the Discipleship Ministries Board of Directors. All of these paragraphs dealt with Lay Servants, Lay Speakers, Lay Missioners and Certified Lay Ministers.

The rationale for submitting these legislative petitions was to bring about clarity, consistency and collaboration. The adopted legislation streamlines and simplifies the processes for people to become certified lay servants, certified lay speakers, and certified lay ministers. In addition, the lay missioner will become a part of the Certified Lay Minister process. This will bring the number of categories to three: certified lay servant, certified lay speaker, and certified lay minister.

The category of local church lay servant has been removed to reduce the number of categories for lay servant ministries. In addition, it has been found that local church lay servants are most often taking an advanced course for renewal rather than a refresher course, and therefore, were fulfilling the requirements for certified lay servant. It is not fiscally responsible to produce materials which will have very limited usage, such as the refresher courses.

Currently, both local church lay servants and certified lay servants serve the local church through ministries of leading, caring and communicating. The difference between the local and the certified lay servants is that the certified lay servant may also serve beyond the local church. Being a certified lay servant, however, does not require service in the district or conference, or in other local churches beyond the local church where membership is held.

A layperson can still serve in the local church after completing the BASIC course, but in order to be certified as a lay servant he/she will need to take an additional Lay Servant Ministries' advanced course.


What the Changes Mean

Effective January 1, 2017, Lay Servant Ministries will have three components:

*             Certified Lay Servant

*             Certified Lay Speaker

*             Certified Lay Minister

For those of you who are currently Local Church Lay Servants, please do not think that your serving roles have been eliminated. Your church still needs you and I encourage you to consider becoming a Certified Lay Servant. You will need to be recommended for this step at your Church/Charge Conference and then you will take a 10-hour advanced class once every 3 years, instead of a 5-hour refresher course once every 3 years. You may continue to serve as you have done in the past, but you will also have the opportunity to serve on District and Conference committees and other activities outside of your local congregation. (Please make sure you complete your 2016 Annual Report as a Local Church Lay Servant.)

Requirements and procedures did not change for Certified Lay Servants. The Certified Lay Servant is now the entry into Lay Servant Ministries.

Certified has been added to the title of Lay Speaker.  The name change is the only change--everything else remains the same.

Certified Lay Ministers are under Lay Servant Ministries, although District Committees on Ordained Ministry still have an important role to play. An ad hoc committee has been working for the last couple of years on procedures and guidelines. Much progress has been made, including the naming of Ava Williams and Cheryl Cain as the co-coordinators for CLM and a new website (

One thing I am personally excited about is the opportunity to promote the BASIC course throughout the Conference as an excellent training opportunity for all lay leadership. Some individuals may not have taken the BASIC course before because they did not want the title of Local Church Lay Servant. Now pastors, leadership teams, and others can recommend this course as an excellent opportunity for an individual to understand his or her call, practice important skills, and become true servant leaders.

A series of new tri-fold brochures have been developed that are available to help explain and promote Lay Servant Ministries. They are available for download here

After submitting an Application to begin as a Certified Lay Servant and upon the recommendation of the pastor and church council/Charge Conference, a person must complete the Basic Course and an Advanced Course in order to be recognized as a Certified Lay Servant. Each year an Annual Report must be filed and reapplication made to the Charge Conference for recommendation to continue. Every three years an Advanced class approved by the Conference Lay Servant Ministries (LSM) Committee and offered by a District Lay Servant Ministries (LSM) Committee, must be completed.

Certified Lay Servants may serve in their local church, where they are members. An Annual Report must be filed each year and a recommendation made to the Charge Conference for continuation. An Advanced Course, approved by the Conference LSM Committee and offered by a District LSM Committee, must be completed every three years.

The new category of Lay Speaker was also, created by the 2012 General Conference for those individuals called to provide occasional pulpit supply. A Lay Speaker must first meet the requirements of a Certified Lay Servant and submit an application to begin in the track for Lay Speaker. A Lay Speaker receives specific training to develop skills to serve the church in pulpit supply.  For more information please contact the District Director of Lay Servant Ministries, Bobbi Blackard at or 217-825-7303.

Lay Speakers must annually request renewal by submitting an Annual Report to the Charge Conference. This recommendation of the pastor and Charge Conference is required annually. An Advanced Course, approved by the Conference LSM Committee and offered by a District LSM Committee must be completed at least every three years.

A review with the District LSM Committee must be conducted and the District LSM Committee make recommendation to the Conference LSM Committee for approval. The Annual Report is to be filed with the Charge Conference. An Advanced Course that is approved by the Conference LSM Committee and offered by a District LSM Committee and a review with the District LSM Committee is completed every three years.

If you have questions about Lay Servant Ministries, please contact the District Director, Peg Ratliff by emailing her at  or by calling 217-883-0137.