About Lay Servant Ministries

Lay Servant Ministries courses are open to ALL, whether or not an enrollee applies to serve as a Lay Servant.

Lay Servant Ministries had its origins in the early organization of the Wesleyan revival in England in the 18th century. With more societies than ordained clergy, John Wesley authorized the use of lay assistants who preached and conducted worship in the absence of clergy. Today there are a wide range of ministries, both in the church and in the world, for lay servants.

The Scriptures and Christian experience point to the importance of proclaiming God’s transforming love. Lay servants fill pulpits; lead Bible studies; teach Sunday school; speak at retirement centers, to prisoners and at youth group gatherings; as well as teach and facilitate in other small group settings. Some are involved with crisis ministries or hospital visitation. Others share in caring one-on-one or are involved in a specialized ministry.

Lay Servant Ministries help Christians to claim their spiritual gifts, talents and skills by offering empowering training. This training encourages them to find places to use their God given gifts in ministry while providing them a network of support.

Categories

The 2016 General Conference of The United Methodist Church established three categories within the Lay Servant Ministries program (effective January 1, 2017).

  • Certified Lay Servant who serves the local church or charge (and/or beyond) by
  • Providing program leadership, assistance and support
  • Leading meetings for prayer, training, study and discussion
  • Conducting, or assists in conducting, worship services, preaching the Word, or giving addresses
  • Providing congregational and community leadership and fostering caring ministries
  • Assisting in the distribution of the elements of Communion as requested by the pastor
  • Teaching the Scriptures, doctrine, organization and ministries of  The United Methodist Church
  • Certified Lay Speaker who serves by preaching the Word when requested by the pastor, district superintendent, or committee on Lay Servant Ministries
  • Certified Lay Minister who serves as a part of a ministry team with supervision and support of a clergy person by
  • Conducting public worship
  • Caring for the congregation
  • Developing new faith communities
  • Preaching the Word
  • Leading small groups
  • Establishing outreach ministries
  • Serving as a class leader
  • Engaging in specialized ministries after appropriate training, such as parish nursing and church planting
  • Assisting in program leadership

Tri-fold brochure: Lay Servant Ministries (2016) (pdf)

Certified Lay Servant

A certified lay servant is a professing member of a local church or charge who desires to serve the church; who knows and is committed to Scripture and the doctrine, heritage, organization and life of The United Methodist Church; and who has received specific training in communication, leading and caring ministries. A certified lay servant serves the local church or charge (or beyond) in ways in which his or her witness, leadership and service inspires others to a deeper commitment to Christ and more effective discipleship. A certified lay servant may:

  • Provide program leadership, assistance and support
  • Lead meetings for prayer, training, study and discussion
  • Conduct, or assist in conducting, worship services, preach the Word, or give addresses when requested by the pastor, district superintendent or committee on Lay Servant Ministries
  • Work with appropriate committees and teams which provide congregational and community leadership and foster caring ministries
  • Assist in the distribution of the elements of Communion upon request of the pastor
  • Teach the Scriptures, doctrine, organization and ministries of The United Methodist Church

Tri-fold brochure: Certified Lay Servant (2016) (pdf)

Becoming a Certified Lay Servant

  • Complete Application to Begin as a Certified Lay Servant
  • Obtain the recommendation of the pastor and church council or charge conference of the local church
  • Complete the Lay Servant Ministries BASIC course
  • Complete a Lay Servant Ministries advanced course
  • Receive approval from the district committee on Lay Servant Ministries

Maintaining certification

Recognition as a certified lay servant may be renewed annually by the district committee on Lay Servant Ministries after the certified lay servant has:

  • Submitted an annual report and renewal application to the charge conference or church council and to the district committee on Lay Servant Ministries, giving evidence of satisfactory performance as a certified lay servant
  • Obtained recommendation for renewal from the pastor and the church council or charge conference of the local church in which he or she holds membership
  • Completed a Lay Servant Ministries advanced course in the last three (3) years

Certified Lay Speaker

A certified lay speaker is a certified lay servant whose call has been affirmed by the conference committee on Lay Servant Ministries to serve the church in occasional pulpit supply.  The certified lay speaker serves by preaching the Word when requested by the pastor, district superintendent, or committee on Lay Servant Ministries.  Established as “Lay Speaker” at the 2012 General Conference, the 2016 General Conference added “Certified” to the title. All other aspects of this program category remain unchanged.

Tri-fold brochure: Certified Lay Speaker (2016) (pdf)

Becoming a Certified Lay Speaker

  • Be a current certified lay servant
  • Complete Certified Lay Speaker Application to Begin or Renew
  • Be recommended by the pastor and the church council or charge conference of the local church in which he or she holds membership
  • Complete a track of study (within a 6-year period from the time of application*) of the following advanced Lay Servant Ministries courses
  • Leading Worship
  • Leading in Prayer
  • Discover Your Spiritual Gifts
  • Preaching (You Can Preach! or From Your Heart to Theirs: Delivering an Effective Sermon)
  • Living Our United Methodist Beliefs (United Methodist heritage)
  • Life Together in the United Methodist Connection (United Methodist polity)
  • Interview with and obtain recommendation from the district committee on Lay Servant Ministries
  • Receive approval and certification from the conference committee on Lay Servant Ministries

*If a prescribed course was taken in the last 3 years before application to the program, it will count toward meeting this requirement. Consult with your district director of Lay Servant Ministries for additional details.

Maintaining certification

Recognition as a certified lay speaker may be renewed annually by the conference committee on Lay Servant Ministries after the certified lay servant has:

  • Submitted an annual report and renewal application to the charge conference or church  council and the district committee on Lay Servant Ministries, giving evidence of satisfactory performance
  • Obtained recommendation for continued recognition from the pastor and the church council or charge conference of the local church in which he or she holds membership
  • Completed a Lay Servant Ministries advanced course in the last three (3) years
  • In the last three (3) years interviewed with and obtained recommendation from the district committee on Lay Servant Ministries and the approval of the conference committee on Lay Servant Ministries

Certified Lay Minister 

For information, see http://www.igrc.org/clm