I am a lay person and want to begin the process of being certified in Lay Servant Ministries. What steps do I need to take?
- Initially, interested individuals should become familiar with Lay Servant Ministries and their requirements. The first step is to consult with his/her pastor, as well as the District Director of Lay Servant Ministries. At some point during the initial year of participation, the individual must submit a report to his/her church's Charge Conference detailing this/her spiritual growth and activities within Lay Servant Ministries. It could be that the report will be submitted before taking any of the classes.... which is allowable if the individual does, in fact, go ahead within the year to become a Lay Servant.
- The Lay Servant must complete the Basic Class, which must be taken in person rather than online. This class details an overview of Lay Servant Ministries, including its development and role within the United Methodist Church.
- Beginning in 2016, the designation of Local Lay Servant was eliminated, and all Lay Servants are Certified Lay Servants – equipped to serve in Caring, Communicating, and Leading outside their home congregations. To achieve this designation, a second course must be taken. One may take any advanced course, but it is suggested that the second class be “Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts”. After the completion of the second course, the individual is considered a Certified Lay Servant, and must take at least one class every three years. The Lay Servant must also complete a report annually for submission to their local Charge Conference.
- If the Lay Servant wishes to serve through preaching and pulpit supply, he/she will become a Certified Lay Speaker. There are five additional classes which must be taken – Leading Prayer, United Methodist Polity, Living Our United Methodist Beliefs, Leading Worship, and Preaching. (Preaching must also be taken in person.)
- The North Alabama Conference Committee of Lay Servant Ministries has recognized that these courses could take several years to complete, which could be a very long time if one felt a call to preach as a Certified Lay Servant. After completion of at least two of these additional courses, an individual may be placed on the list for pulpit supply in their district, with the understanding that they will complete all the required classes within a reasonable time. This action may be taken by that district's Director of Lay Servant Ministries.
- After completion of all the required coursework, as well as submission of the annual report and local church Charge Conference approval, the individual must meet with their District Committee on Lay Servant Ministries. That meeting should be scheduled with the district director. After approval of that committee, the Lay Servant is then a Certified Lay Speaker. All Certified Lay Speakers must take at least one Advanced class every three years, and must submit their report to their local Charge Conference annually.
The continuation of the pathway for Lay Servant Ministries will include the steps in becoming a Certified Lay Minister, a designation which applies to an individual who “is a certified lay servant, certified lay missioner, or equivalent as defined by his or her central conference, who is called and equipped to conduct public worship, care for the congregation, assist in program leadership, develop new and existing faith communities, preach the Word, lead small groups, or establish community outreach ministries as part of a ministry team with the supervision and support of a clergyperson. A certified lay minister is assigned by a district superintendent .“
Certified Lay Ministers, Certified Lay Missioners, and Certified Lay Ministers/Parish Nurses are all part of the Ministry of the Laity; their pathways are presently being established within the North Alabama Conference.
After those steps are decided upon, this “Pathway” will be amended to include them. Until then, if individuals are interested in becoming Certified Lay Ministers, they should fulfill the requirements of Certified Lay Minister and Certified Lay Speaker, as those requirements will be included as steps toward becoming a Certified Lay Minister.
If additional information is needed, go to www.umcdiscipleship.org/leadership-resources/lay-servant-ministries. The information on the website is excellent.