What is a Lay Servant?


Lay servant ministries logoA Lay Servant is, first of all, a lay person – a lay person who feels a calling to be a leader in their home congregation and sometimes in the wider church community.

A Lay Servant is trained in leadership skills through classes offered at different times and places throughout the conference. Everyone who wishes to explore becoming a Lay Servant must take the Basic Lay Servant Class to begin.  After that, he or she may choose from many different advanced classes to continue that training.

Under the guidelines established by the 2012 General Conference, there are two paths for a Lay Servant to consider. He may decide to remain a Local Lay Servant, serving only in his local congregation; or he may decide to become a Certified Lay Servant or a Certified Lay Speaker. The requirements for each of these designations are contained in a brochure which can be downloaded from the Discipleship Ministries website.

The first level of Lay Servant is the Local Church Lay Servant – take the basic class, get approval from pastor and charge conference, submit an annual report, and take a refresher class at least once in every three years.

The next level is a Certified Lay Servant, who may serve outside his or her local church. One may become a Certified Lay Servant after taking an advanced class, getting approval from pastor and charge conference, submit an annual report, and take at least one advanced class every three years.

The third level is the Certified Lay Speaker. These lay people have already become Certified Lay Servants and have a calling to continue as pulpit supply. Here again, pastor and charge conference approval is required, as well as completing the core courses required for Lay Speaker; an interview with the District Committee on Lay Servant Ministries and approved by the Annual Conference Board of Lay Ministry; file the annual report; and take an advanced class at least once in three years. Some of the courses are available on the Be A Disciple website and may be taken as an on-line course. Visit www.beadisciple.com to find out more about classes being offered. (The Basic Course is not offered as an on-line class.)
The core courses are these:

  • Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts
  • Leading Prayer
  • Preaching
  • Living Our United Methodist Beliefs (UM heritage and history)
  • Leading Worship
  • Life Together in the United Methodist Connection (UM Polity)
People who were certified Lay Speakers under the pre-2012 guidelines must follow the new guidelines to retain that certification. The amount of time allowed to do this has not been determined as yet.
For more information about Lay Speaking Ministries, contact Jean Neely, Conference coordinator for the program.