Laity have long been part of a ministry in Methodism. Lay preachers, exhorters, and class leaders have served the church since its earliest days.
“A certified lay minister 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.” (Paragraph 268.1. 2016 Book of Discipline)
“The certified lay minister serves to enhance the quality of ministry much like a class leader did in early Methodism through service in the local church, circuit or cooperative parish, or by expanding team ministry in other churches and charges. As with lay ministry in early Methodism, the certified lay minister uses his or her spiritual gifts as evidence of God’s grace.” (Paragraph 268.2, 2016 Book of Discipline)
There are four major components to the formation of Certified Lay Ministers:
Certified Lay Ministers (CLMs) are usually providing ministry in part-time or volunteer roles in a variety of formats:
- in visitation and care ministry
- as parish nurse (with appropriate training)
- as a small group leader
- in preaching ministries
- as a missionary or church planter
- in smaller faith communities – that are not stand-alone parishes; house churches, ethnic fellowships, small faith communities
- in Ethnic Ministries
- as Hispanic/Latino Lay Missioners
- as a pastor of a small church as part of a ministry team
- on a pastoral team on multi-point charges or parishes to assist in continuity of leadership
- as a pastoral associate in a larger church
- multi-cultural or cross-cultural groups by developing indigenous leadership
Here is the basic process required to become a Certified Lay Minister in The United Methodist Church (2016 Book of Discipline, paragraph 268.3)
- Be certified as a lay servant or lay missioner.
- Obtain written recommendation from the pastor and the church council or charge conference of the local church in which he or she holds membership.
- Submit written application.
- Complete the track of study for certified lay ministers relevant to the candidate’s assignment (or specialization).
- Receive a letter of recommendation from his or her district superintendent.
- Had all requirements for certification, including appropriate screening and assessment as defined by the annual conference, reviewed by the conference committee on Lay Servant Ministries, or equivalent structure, for referral to the district committee on ordained ministry for examination of persons who have applied in writing to be certified lay ministers and to make recommendation for certification.
- The dCOM will make recommendation to the Conference Committee on Lay Servant Ministries, who will vote final certification.
To be renewed as a CLM (every 2 years):
- Submit annual report to the charge conference or church council where membership is held and to the conference committee on Lay Servant Ministries, giving evidence of satisfactory performance as a certified lay minister.
- Obtain ministry review by the committee on pastor-parish relations, church council, or charge conference from the congregation of which s/he is a member, or when under assignment, from the committee on pastor-parish relations, charge conference, or supervisory board of the ministry setting in which s/he is assigned.
- Complete a Lay Servant Ministries advanced course or approved continuing education event in the last two years.
- Submit written application for recertification.
- Obtain recommendation for recertification from the district superintendent.
- Had all requirements for recertification reviewed by the conference committee on Lay Servant Ministries, or equivalent structure, for referral to the district committee on ordained ministry for examination of persons who have applied in writing to be renewed as certified lay ministers and to make recommendation for recertification. After the district committee on ordained ministry interviews the certified lay minister, the district committee on ordained ministry will make a recommendation to the conference committee on Lay Servant Ministries for final recertification by that committee.
The CLM is assigned by the DS to provide lay servant leadership in a ministry or in a church as part of a ministry team. The CLM is accountable to the DS or another ordained or licensed minister appointed to oversee the charge, who will make provision for sacramental ministry and provide guidance and mentoring to the CLM assigned.
CLM’s are laypersons and as such are not eligible for support by equitable compensation funds or pension that are provided for clergy members. The local congregation is encouraged to provide appropriate compensation.